A head constable was killed in stone-pelting by a mob on Tuesday, as the ongoing protests by Dalits over four community members being assaulted allegedly for skinning a cow in Una spread to several parts of Gujarat.
“The head constable with the local crime branch, Pankaj Amreli, was injured in stone-pelting in Amreli. He died during treatment at Rajkot hospital. Ten other persons, including protesters and policemen, have been injured,” police said.
Three youths attempted suicide at their residential society in Batwa town in Junagadh district on Tuesday, a day after seven Dalit youths tried to consume poison in Rajkot district demanding justice.
“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 their condition is stable.
Several incidents of damage to state transport buses and road blockades were reported from different parts of Saurashtra region across Junagadh, Jamnagar, Rajkot and Amreli districts since late night on Monday.
“There was a report of BRTS buses being ransacked by the community members as several public transport vehicles were also ransacked,” DCP, Rajkot, Karanraj Vaghela said.
A bus was torched in Dhoraji town and several others damaged. Protestors also allegedly vandalised sheds of the Bus Rapid Transit System in Rajkot, police said.
A mob gathered at Chital Road locality in Amreli town in the morning and started pelting 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.
Some people hurled stones at the Ahmedabad-Veraval train as it was entering Rajkot, injuring an assistant driver on Monday night, police said.
The state road transport department has suspended bus services from Porbandar in view of the prevailing situation.
The state has been on the boil since four Dalit youths were thrashed by a group claiming to be from the Shiv Sena in Gir-Somnath district’s Samadhiyala village on July 11 for allegedly slaughtering a cow. The youth explained they were skinning dead animals, as was their traditional vocation, but they were beaten with iron rods and dragged for half a kilometre behind an SUV by the assailants.
A video clip of the incident was shared widely on social media, sparking outrage across the country.
Chief minister Anandiben Patel had on Monday ordered a CID probe into the alleged assault on the four Dalits at Una in Gir-Somnath district and also announced setting up a special court for speedy trial of the case.
Nine people have been arrested so far in connection with the case, and three policemen have been suspended for dereliction of duty.
The issue also rocked Rajya Sabha, with the House being adjourned for a short period on the opening day of the monsoon session as BSP members trooped into the well alleging atrocities on Dalits in BJP-ruled Gujarat.
The Congress has demanded a judicial probe into the incident. State Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki visited Rajkot civil hospital on Tuesday to meet the Dalit youths who tried to kill themselves yesterday.
“We demand that the (Una) incident be probed by a sitting high court judge. We would meet the Governor to put forth demand,” he told reporters.
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”.
Accusing the Congress of playing the “diversionary politics by provoking the sentiments”, state BJP president Bharat Pandya said, “BJP was the first to condemn the (Una) incident. Elected MLAs, ministers, MPs, chairmen and organisation office-bearers had visited the affected families. The party has stood by the victims and government immediately extended financial aid to them.”