After the Patidars, Dalits are raising the banner of revolt in Gujarat
RAJKOT July 20: After the massive and prolonged agitation of the Patidars, a high caste of Hindus, it is the turn of the Dalits (former “untouchables”) to rise in revolt in the Western Indian state of Gujarat.
Dalit protests spread to several parts of the State including the capital, Ahmedabad, unleashing violence in which two persons, including a Head Constable, were killed in stone pelting and state transport buses attacked, reports said on Tuesday.
Ten Dalit youths allegedly attempted suicide, the Press Trust of India reported.
The Dalits are protesting against the brutal assault on fellow community members on July 11 for allegedly skinning a cow in Una in Gir-Somnath district.
“A Head Constable with local crime branch, Pankaj Amreli, was injured in stone-pelting in Amreli town. He died during treatment at Rajkot hospital. Ten other persons including protesters and policemen have been injured,” police said.
Three youths of Batwa in Junagadh district attempted to commit suicide by consuming poison, they added.
After seven Dalit youths attempted suicide at Gondal and Jamkandorna in Rajkot district, state transport buses were attacked and road blockades were put up in different parts of the Saurashtra region, across Junagadh, Jamnagar, Rajkot and Amreli districts.
The protests also spread to Ahmedabad, where dozens of Dalits were detained, police said.
While a bus was torched in Dhoraji town of Rajkot district and several others damaged, protestors vandalized sheds for the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in Rajkot late last night.
“Dinesh Parmar (21), Dinesh Vegra (23) and Rasik Vinjura (40) gathered at Ambedkar Nagar society and consumed poison to protest against the beating (of Dalit youths in Una). We rushed them to Junagadh civil hospital for treatment,” police said, adding that their condition is now stable.
Hundreds of protesters gathered at Chital in Amreli town this morning and started hurling stones at police who in turn fired two teargas shells to disperse them. In Surendranagar, agitators blocked a highway by putting the carcass of a cow in the middle of the road, police said.
In the wake of the tense situation, the State Road Transport Department today suspended bus services from Porbandar and other parts as protesters continued to block roads. Some persons hurled stones at the Ahmedabad-Veraval train as it was entering Rajkot injuring an assistant driver last night, police said.
“There was a report of BRTS buses being ransacked by the community members and several public transport vehicles are also being ransacked,” DCP, Rajkot, Karanraj Vaghela, said.
The opposition Congress party demanded a probe by a sitting High Court judge into the Una incident. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel tweeted: “Failure of authorities to protect Dalits in Gujarat is absolutely shocking. Is it the Gujarat model? Independent probe is need of the hour”.
Nine persons have been arrested so far in connection with the assault on Dalits, while three policemen have been suspended for dereliction of duty.