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India bulldozes home of man who allegedly urinated on tribal member in viral video

By Tara Subramaniam and Manveena Suri, CNN

(CNN) — Authorities in India’s central Madhya Pradesh state have demolished a man’s home after a video that appeared to show him urinating on a member of a tribal community went viral on social media this week.

While the incident captured in the video allegedly occurred a year ago, the man, identified by police as Pravesh Shukla, was arrested and charged Tuesday for the obscene act. He could be fined and jailed for up to two years, police said.

“As soon as we learnt of this video that went viral, the police took action,” said Priya Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police for Sidhi District, where the incident is alleged to have taken place.

District police told CNN the state government also ordered Shukla’s house to be demolished because it was “illegally constructed.” Local media showed the structure being bulldozed Wednesday.

This is not the first time Indian authorities have demolished the home of someone accused of criminal activity.

Following violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims in April 2022, authorities in Madhya Pradesh demolished several properties belonging to people they said were “rioters” and “encroachers,” claiming the houses and shops were built illegally on public land.

Just a few months later in June 2022, officials in the state of Uttar Pradesh demolished the homes of several people accused of involvement in riots protesting against anti-Islamic comments made by two members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

A political flashpoint

In a Twitter post Friday, the Madhya Pradesh government said the victim would receive 500,000 rupees ($6,000) in compensation and 150,000 rupees ($1,800) to help him build a house.

The announcement came a day after Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan visited the victim to apologize for what happened to him.

“Ever since I saw the video of [this] incident, my heart is deeply disturbed and filled with pain,” Chouhan tweeted Thursday.

Tribal society accounts for approximately 8.6% of India’s population, according to the United States Agency for International Development. While the more than 104 million Indians belonging to such communities are recognized under the country’s constitution as protected “scheduled tribes,” they remain “among the most marginalized and disadvantaged socio-economic groups in India,” according to USAID.

While Chouhan has called for Shukla to be punished severely to set an example, politicians from rival parties have seized on the incident to criticize Chouhan and the BJP, of which he is a member.

Rahul Gandhi, a senior member of India’s main opposition Congress party, claimed in a tweet that “Atrocities on tribal brothers and sisters are increasing [under] BJP rule.”

Following his visit with the victim, Chouhan tweeted that, “Atrocities against anyone will not be tolerated.”

“The respect of every citizen of the state is my goal,” he said.

Members of the Congress party have also claimed Shukla was an aide to a BJP member of the legislative assembly, according to CNN affiliate CNN-News18. Members of the BJP have rejected this allegation.

Former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath, who is also a member of the Congress party, said he was “deeply saddened” by the incident, adding, “It is heartbreaking after seeing the video of a BJP leader urinating on a tribal youth in Sidhi district.”

“This incident is an attack on tribal identity,” Nath said in a tweet. “The Congress party stands completely with the tribal society and will continue to provide justice to them.”

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