The Gujarat Police on Monday ordered a probe by its criminal investigation department (CID) into the killing of three Dalits, including two minors, in police firing in Surendranagar district, after relatives of those killed charged the police with firing without provocation on unarmed members of their community.
The state government has also asked principal secretary (social justice) Sanjay Prasad to inquire into the incident.
Family members accepted the dead bodies from Rajkot civil hospital only after state police chief Chitranjan Singh ordered a CID enquiry.
The police firing took place after a clash broke out between Bharwads and Dalits following an altercation between members of the two communities during the auctioning of shops at an annual fair organised by the local covic body on Sunday evening in Than, 100 km from the state capital.
During the altercation, Bharwads allegedly started beating up a Dalit boy, after which Dalits gathered at the venue and decided to file a police complaint. Meanwhile, a mob moved towards the police station and pelted it with stones, prompting the police to first lob tear-gas shells and then fire at the mob, a police officer said.
“We demand that a police complaint for murdering three innocent persons be registered against the policemen who fired at the crowed,” Gujarat Congress leader and prominent Dalit leader Girish Parmar said.
Dalit leaders of the Gujarat BJP accused the Congress of “politicising the issue”.
Said local Dalit activist Babulal Solanki, “Our persons were not armed and yet the police killed them, including minors. Everybody knows that the Bharwads are powerful.”