Indian teacher 'beheads' low-caste man after he uses flour mill, accusing him of making it 'impure': Police

DEHRADUN, INDIA (AFP) - An Indian teacher beheaded a Dalit man after an argument over his use of a flour mill, a senior police officer said on Friday (Oct 7), the latest in a spate of attacks on members of the country's lowest caste.

The teacher became angry when he saw 35-year-old Sohan Ram using the flour mill in northern Uttarakhand state and accused him of making it "impure", the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Even though the concept of untouchability has been outlawed in India, some Hindus still believe that contact with a person of low caste will render them impure.

"Sohan Ram was abused for using the flour mill and when he protested he was attacked by a sickle," police superintendent Sukhbir Singh told AFP.

"We have arrested the accused under various sections of the IPC (Indian Penal Code)."

Dalits, formerly known as "untouchables", are commonly tasked with menial jobs under India's deeply entrenched social hierarchy.

They form 16.6 per cent of the national population or roughly 200 million, and continue to face oppression six decades after India banned caste discrimination.

Rights groups say the government has failed to keep its pledge to end violence against them.

Last month, an angry mob attacked a pregnant Dalit woman in western Gujarat and in August 14 police officers were suspended after a low-caste man died in custody in north India.