India

Indian lowest-caste Dalit man killed 'for owning horse'

Horse (file image)
Image caption In parts of India, owning a horse confers wealth and power

A young farmer from the lowest rung of India's caste hierarchy - the Dalit community - has been beaten to death, apparently for owning and riding a horse.

Police in Gujarat state said three upper-caste men had been detained for questioning.

The victim's father said his son had been warned not to ride the horse as this was an upper-caste privilege.

Owning a horse is seen as a symbol of power and wealth in parts of India.

A senior police officer said other possible motives had not been ruled out.

Pradeep Rathod, 21, was found dead in a pool of blood near Timbi village in Gujarat state late on Thursday. The horse was also found dead nearby, his father said.

In a complaint filed to police, his father said his son had loved horses so he had bought him one.

"My son's love for horses led to his murder," the father said according to AFP news agency, which has seen the statement.

"About a week ago, when I was riding the horse with my son, one of the persons from the upper caste Kshatriya [warrior] community warned us not to ride the horse in the village.

"He said that people of Dalit community cannot ride horses, only Kshatriyas can ride horses. He also threatened to kill us if we did not sell the horse," the complaint read.

India has a history of attacks and discrimination against the Dalit community, formerly known as "untouchables", reports the BBC's South Asia editor Anbarasan Ethirajan.

Last October, a Dalit man was killed by a group of men for reportedly attending a traditional Hindu dance performance also in Gujarat.

Discrimination on the basis of caste is outlawed in India but remains widespread across the country.

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