Gujarat is witnessing widespread protests following the incident at Una where seven Dalit youths were beaten up for skinning a dead cow on July 11. 16 members of the Dalit community, including local Congress leader Anil Madhad, attempted suicide in Saurashtra on Monday and Tuesday as a form of protest. Several suicide attempts were reported on Tuesday from Junagadh, Gondal, Kesod and Ahmedabad. According to local news agency Sandesh, one Hemant Bhika Solanki died after drinking poison in Khambaliya village, Bhesan.
Protestors set two state transport buses on fire in Gondal and blocked a national highway for several hours. During a protest rally in Surendranagar, a group also dumped carcasses in the local Collector’s office. Clashes between protestors and the police were reported from Amreli district as well. A police man also was killed in the violence.
Violence erupted Tuesday in Rajkot city, Rajkot district, Surendranagar, Amreli, Junagadh and Ahmedabad. Police said a mob hurled stones at a police patrol in Amreli. Constable Pankaj Rameshbhai Amreliya, one of those seriously injured in the attack, died in hospital later.
Additional DGP (Law and Order) V M Pargi said: “The constable was shifted to Rajkot civil hospital where he died.” He said violent protests were reported from other districts as well. P P Pandey, DGP in-charge, issued a statement, appealing to people to maintain peace.
Gujarat Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel, according to a PTI report from Udaipur, backed the protesting Dalits, saying they have faced exploitation and their demands are justified. Released after nine months in jail, Patel has to remain outside Gujarat for six months on court orders.
On Monday night, mobs took to the streets and set ablaze state transport buses in Rajkot, Dhoraji and other towns of Saurashtra. In Surendranagar, a truckload of cow carcasses were dumped outside the collector’s office.
The Gujarat government has suspended four police officers for negligence, and ordered a Criminal Investigation Department probe into the matter. Chief Minister Anandiben Patel said a court will be set up to expedite the trial and a charge sheet will be submitted within 60 days. The state police have arrested a total of nine people in connection with the assault incident.
The victims were skinning a dead cow they had bought, when around six men intervened and started asking them how and where they got it. They accused the Dalits of killing the animal and started thrashing them.
The assault was caught on camera and went viral when one of the accused uploaded it, cautioning people against killing bovine creatures unless they want to meet the same fate. The video showed several men stripping the victims, tying them to an SUV and beating them up with iron pipes and sticks.
The accused, who belong to a local cow protection committee, then took the four men to a nearby village and assaulted them further before taking them to Una town, 24 km from the spot. Police Inspector NU Zala said the men stopped their vehicle on their way and thrashed the victims in the middle of the road. Three people who tried to stop them were also beaten up.
Dalit Panthers of Gujarat today gave a call for a state-wide bandh tomorrow in protest against the brutal thrashing of Dalit youths in Una town of Gir-Somnath district last week.
Various organisations such as the Jan Sangharsh Manch and Dalit Movement of India have supported the call.
“Dalit Panthers of Gujarat has given a Gujarat bandh call tomorrow to protest against the atrocities on dalits in Una town. More than ten organisations have supported our call,” said General Secretary of Gujarat Dalit Panthers Rahul Parmar.