Gehlot faces criticism from section of Congress leaders over Dalit boy’s death
Congress lawmaker Panachand Meghwal sent his resignation to Gehlot on Monday citing rising cases of atrocities against Dalits.
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot has faced criticism from a section of his party leaders over the death of a nine-year-old Dalit student in Jalore apart from opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The boy died after a teacher allegedly thrashed him for drinking water from a pot meant for upper caste students and teachers.
Congress lawmaker Panachand Meghwal sent his resignation to Gehlot on Monday citing rising cases of atrocities against Dalits. He said Dalits were being killed in the name of drinking water , keeping moustache or riding a mare. “In the name of probe, files are sent here and there, and the judicial process is stalled.”
Over half a dozen councillors from the Baran Municipal Council also submitted their resignations on Tuesday even as Congress leader Sachin Pilot, who revoted against Gehlot in 2020, met the boy’s family and announced ₹20 lakh assistance.
Pilot said the boy’s dead body was buried at night and force was used against his family while demanding action against officials responsible for it. “The family is still living under fear,” he said. “Such discrimination is taking place even after 75 years of independence. This is a matter of self-introspection for all.” He said the FIR filed in the case said the boy drank water “from a pot which was of his master.”
Rajasthan Scheduled Caste Commission head and lawmaker Khiladi Lal Bairwa demanded ₹50 lakh compensation and a government job as was given to the family of Kanhaiya Lal, who was beheaded in Udaipur.
A Congress leader said the boy’s death has again highlighted factionalism within the party. Congress spokesman RC Choudhary insisted the party leaders are not against the government but are speaking on behalf of the people.
Political analyst Manish Godha said Pilot’s comments indicate that differences between the leaders have not been sorted out. He added instead of BJP, Congress lawmakers have been vocal as Dalits are their traditional voters.
State BJP chief Satish Poonia said there has been infighting within Congress since the government was formed in 2018. “...those in government are facing the ire of people as atrocities on Dalits have increased. The leaders have moral responsibility towards the people, and also have to face the elections.”