Dalit backlash puts Gujarat on the boil; Rahul, Kejriwal to visit Una

  • Amit Cowper, Hindustan Times, Gandhinagar
  • Updated: Jul 20, 2016 10:11 IST
Dalits protest against the alleged attack on community members for skinning a cow in Una, in Ahmedabad. (AP Photo)

The assault on a group of Dalits by a vigilante cow protection group in Una in Gujarat’s Gir-Somnath district last week for allegedly killing a cow, has left the state government grappling to contain a violent backlash while both the opposition Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party are poised to make political capital out of it.

Chief minister Anandiben Patel will visit Una town on Wednesday to meet the victims and the family members.

Patel has condemned the incident and appealed the people to maintain peace.

“It was indeed a despicable act, and no community can tolerate it. Local police was also at fault, as they did not act swiftly. Apart from arresting the culprits, we have also suspended such policemen. State government will provide a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to each of the victims,” she said.

She has also ordered a CID probe into the incident and also announced setting up of a special court for “speedy” trial.

The Congress and the AAP are set use the latest atrocity on the Dalits to put the state government on the back foot.

While Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to visit to visit Una on Thursday, AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal will visit the town on Friday.

Read | Una Dalit atrocity protests spread over Gujarat, cop dies in stone pelting

AAP’s media coordinator Harshil Nayak said Kejriwal would meet the victims. “The visit is aimed at expressing solidarity with the victims and sharing their pain,” he said.

The Gujarat units of the Congress and the AAP have called for a protest rally on Wednesday.

“I see a clear hand of the BJP in the Una incident, where the police were mute spectators even when the Dalit youth were being beaten up. We are demanding stern action against all the 35 people involved in the Una incident,” Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela, told reporters.

Vaghela along with the Gujarat Congress regional committee president, Bharatsinh Solanki, and other SC MLAs met governor OP Kohli and submitted a memorandum demanding strict action in the Una case.

The victims claimed that they were skinning the cow which had died of natural causes when they were attacked. The video of the incident which went viral, sparked protests that led to a policeman’s killing in mob violence while a Dalit committed suicide.

Several incidents of stone-pelting and road blockades were reported from many parts of Gujarat on Tuesday. The attacks on buses led to the cancellation of transport services in Saurashtra.

Official said that local bus services such as the BRTS were also affected due to stone-pelting in Malavianagar and Puneetnagar areas of Rajkot city. A local bus was damaged by protesters in Chandkheda region of Ahmedabad.

“Buses from Jamnagar, Junagadh, Amreli and Porbandar leaving for Rajkot were cancelled on advice of the police,” said JH Solanki, the chief traffic and chief commercial officer, Gujarat State Roads and Transportation Corporation (GSRTC).

Dalit protesters set on fire three state transport buses, including two in Dhoraji and one in Dhrol near Jamnagar, and vandalised a telephone exchange in Rajkot.

A 2,000-strong mob also attacked two state buses in Amreli town in Saurashtra region.

Read | Four Dalit men stripped, beaten by cow protection vigilantes in Gujarat

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