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Monday, 10 July, 2000, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Indian minister 'tortured' staff
Milita
Bihar is wracked by violence between different caste groups
A police investigation has begun in the northern Indian state of Bihar following claims that a minister tortured two of his lower caste staff.

The Minister for Co-operatives, Lalit Kumar Yadav, has been sacked by the state chief minister following the allegations.


I was kept locked, beaten mercilessly, nails torn out and forced to drink urine for several days

Dinanath Baitha

Two men, who were employed by Mr Yadav as a truck driver and an assistant, have accused him of holding them in captivity for the past month, and of inflicting severe physical abuse.

Bihar, one of India's poorest states, is afflicted by endemic violence between upper and lower Hindu caste groups.

Locked up

Dinanath Baitha and Karu Ram say they were kidnapped by some men employed by Mr Yadav, following accusations they had attempted to steal one of the minister's trucks.


"I was kept locked, beaten mercilessly, nails torn out and forced to drink urine for several days," Baitha told police after he was rescued at the weekend from the minister's private residence.

The two men were finally released following a report on a private television channel about the incident.

Director General of Police in Bihar, KA Jacob, said the sacked minister would be arrested once a local court issued an arrest warrant.

Denial

Mr Yadav has denied the charges.

"I am not involved," he said.

A spokesman for the ruling party in Bihar, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, told the BBC that the minister had been ordered to give himself up to the police.

One report said he had gone into hiding.

Caste-related violence has risen in recent years in Bihar, and the decision to dismiss Mr Yadav so promptly follows growing pressure on the state government to deal strictly with such cases.

Last month, some 30 lower caste Hindus were shot dead in an attack blamed on a private army hired by upper caste landlords.

With an annual average of 5,000 reported murders, 12,000 incidents of rioting and hundreds of abductions, Bihar has earned the distinction of being India's most lawless state.

It is also one of the country's poorest states with an annual per capita income of 1,140 rupees ($25.50).

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See also:

30 Jun 00 | South Asia
Bihar's bitter caste war
17 Jun 00 | South Asia
Caste war escalates in Bihar
12 Jun 00 | South Asia
Bihar hit by more caste murders
28 Sep 99 | South Asia
Dalits' political awakening
17 Jun 00 | South Asia
Bihar: Why the violence?
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