Congress defends denial of ticket to MLA accused of assaulting Dalit engineer

The Bari MLA, booked under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, joined the BJP after the Congress denied him a ticket, and was immediately fielded as the BJP candidate from Bari for the upcoming election

by · The Hindu

The Congress on Wednesday defended its decision to deny a ticket to Bari MLA Girraj Malinga, who is facing charges that he assaulted a Dalit engineer of the Rajasthan Energy Department more than a year ago. After the State’s ruling party dropped him, Mr. Malinga joined the BJP on November 5 and was fielded as its candidate for the Assembly election from Bari later that evening.

Congress general secretary in charge of organisation K.C. Venugopal said that the party had taken a “firm decision” to refuse a ticket to someone accused of a serious crime against a Dalit. “However, immediately after we denied the ticket, the BJP welcomed Mr. Malinga with open arms,” he said. “Such a jubilant welcome shows that they [the BJP] have no regard for the rights or safety of Dalits. In fact, it confirms their oppressive and anti-Dalit attitude,” he posted on X (formerly Twitter).

Physical, verbal assault

The three-time MLA was booked in a case of alleged assault against the engineer, Harshadhipati Valmiki, after he went to a Rajput-dominated village in his constituency in Dholpur district to enquire about the non-payment of electricity bills by a large number of people. Mr. Malinga allegedly stormed into the department’s office with his associates on March 28, 2022, and assaulted Mr. Valmiki with casteist slurs.

The victim sustained multiple fracture injuries, including a broken femur, in the attack. He is still undergoing treatment at the Sawai Man Singh Government Hospital in Jaipur. A case was registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, after which the police arrested several of the accused. Mr. Malinga surrendered on May 11, 2022, and was sent to judicial custody by a court in Dholpur.

After Mr. Malinga tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to a hospital, the Rajasthan High Court granted him bail. The charge-sheet is yet to be filed in the court.

‘Politically motivated case’

Accusing the BJP of trying to dilute the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act time and again, Mr. Venugopal said that by inducting a known offender, the party had told the Dalits of India that a vote for the BJP was a vote for “further assaults, humiliation and insult”.

However, Mr. Malinga claimed that he was being harassed by the Congress. After he joined the BJP, the MLA complained that he had not received any support from the Congress or the State government in the “false and politically motivated” case registered against him.