Police in Nerul, close to Navi Mumbai, have arrested seven people in connection with the murder of a Dalit boy on Tuesday night who was killed because he had been in a relationship with a girl from a different caste.
Police said 15-year-old Swapnil Sonawane was beaten to death by the girl's relatives and their friends. The 15-year-old girl has also been named as an accused and sent to a children's home in Bhiwandi, according to The Indian Express.
Navi Mumbai police commissioner Hemant Nagrale said: "The boy's parents claim the girl is responsible for his death. The girl's parents, her two brothers, the brothers' friends and a rickshaw driver who ferried the Sonawane family to the girl's residence have been arrested."
Shahaji Sonawane, Swapnil's father, said that the girl's brother had phoned Swapnil on Monday evening, asking him to meet him at the building gate. "When Swapnil went downstairs, some boys put him in an autorickshaw and beat him up. He was taken to Nerul police station, where the girl's father was also present," said Shahaji.
According to Shahaji, Swapnil was warned by the girl's father and the police to stay away from the girl. Swapnil's mother and other relatives who arrived at the police station to fetch him were told to ensure the relationship between the two teens ended.
Shahaji said: "My wife was told by a lady police officer, 'Why are you behaving like characters in the film Sairat. Your story will also become like the film's. There will be bloodshed in your home'".
(Marathi film Sairat is about an inter-caste couple who are killed in the end by the girl's family.)
Two police officers have been suspended for dereliction of duty and gross misconduct, including the woman sub-inspector Sonali Rajguru who allegedly referred to Sairat on Monday night, and assistant police inspector Yogesh Mane who allegedly refused to register a complaint by Shahaji on Tuesday.
Shahaji alleged: "It was Swapnil's first day at college on Tuesday. I took him to the police station but one of the police officers did not allow us to meet the senior inspector. My complaint against the girl's brother was not registered. Had they taken action, my son would have been alive today."