Gujarat has found itself in the eye of the storm once again, with violent protests erupting across the state. Seven Dalits attempted suicides on Monday to protest against the beating up and humiliation of four dalit boys in Una, in the Saurashtra district. Cow vigilantes had allegedly beaten up four Dalit boys in Una last week for skinning a dead cow.
Self-styled 'gou-rakshaks' or cow protectors stripped the four boys, who were tannery workers, tied them to a car, and flogged them with sticks and pipes and then dragged them to the village, which is 360 kms from Ahmedabad. They also put up a video of the incident online as a 'warning' for potential cow-killers.
Several major cities in Gujarat saw torchings and protests in response to the incident, with seven separate Dalit suicide cases lodged in the state. State transport buses were torched in Rajkot and Jamnagar. Protests rallies were also held by Dalit groups in Gondal and Jamkandorana, the two spots where young Dalit men tried to swallow pesticide and kill themselves.
Demonstrations were also carried out outside the District Collector's Office in Gondal, as well as in Surendranagar, where members of the Dalit community threatened to stop carrying away dead animals, a job specifically relegated to the Dalit community.
The protests have attracted quite a bit of political traction with Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel, ordering a CID probe into the incident.
Directed authorities concerned to take sternest action in Una incident. Handed the case to CID Crime Branch to ensure fair & speedy probe.— Anandiben Patel (@anandibenpatel) July 18, 2016
The video put up by the perpetrators, which went viral on social media, has helped the police to locate the men who carried out the flogging. A Rs. 2 lakh cash compensation was also offered to each of the victims.
CM Anandiben took to Twitter to express the swiftness with which her Ministry took action against the culprits, who belong to fringe groups that often claim allegiance to BJP.
Announced to set up special court for trial of accused in atrocity case in consultation with High court. Chargesheet to be filed in 60 days.— Anandiben Patel (@anandibenpatel) July 18, 2016
Seven more arrested in Una case, total 16 accused held till now. State govt is taking strict action against all accused.— Anandiben Patel (@anandibenpatel) July 19, 2016
I appeal to Dalit youth to not resort to desperate measures like attempting suicide & assure them that govt is with Una victims.— Anandiben Patel (@anandibenpatel) July 19, 2016
(Feature Image Source: PTI)