The police arrested 26 people for rioting, attempt to murder and conspiracy in Gujarat’s Una town on Tuesday, a day after locals attacked a group of Dalits and clashed with police, leaving many injured.
There was no fresh violence, but the town that has become the epicentre of the nationwide fight against atrocities on Dalits remained tense. Community members said they were living in fear and security troops were deployed in 15 villages to keep the peace.
“Two FIRs have been filed, one for the attack on the Dalits in which four were injured and the other for the attack on the police,” said Inspector General (Junagadh range) Brijeeshkumar Jha. “The situation is under control now.”
But Jayanti Makadia, president of the Gujarat Dalit Sena, said seven community members were beaten up by a mob on the Una-Bhavnagar highway. They were heading home to Bhavnagar after participating in an Asmita Yatra that started in Ahmedabad on August 5 and ended in Una on Monday.
The villagers, who had blocked the highway, also clashed with the police when they got there. “The mob pelted the police with stones and dispersed only after the troops used teargas and fired in the air,” said a source. A villager and five police personnel, including a deputy superintendent and an inspector, were injured in the clash.
Dalit groups plan to follow up the Asmita Yatra — that was held to protest the July 11 assault on seven Dalits by cow vigilantes for skinning a dead cow — with a 500-km bike rally from Una to Gandhinagar. Makadia said the rally would kick off on August 29 and pass through Samter village, the scene of Monday’s violence.
“At Samter, locals blocked the roads for Dalits. We could use it only after police intervention. But the police cannot come to our rescue every day. So we will pass through this village to set an example,” he said.