Even as the state government has not been making public the findings and recommendations of a probe into the 2012 police firing on dalits in Thangadh town of Surendranagar district, the government has now awarded three acres of land per family of the four victims as compensation while considering the incident as “exceptional”. Three persons were killed and one was seriously injured in the firing incident.
The rare gesture of the government of giving land as compensation in cases of atrocities on dalits is in addition to a number of monetary compensation awards granted to the Thangadh victims’ families that run into around Rs 33 lakh in total.
Meanwhile, since the four families have refused to take the plots of land granted to them by the government as compensation on the ground that they are non-cultivable rocky pieces of land, the latter has even shown readiness to provide them cultivable agricultural land in the region.
Sources in the Directorate of Scheduled Caste Welfare said that the decision to grant more than three acres of land to each of the four victims’ families was taken earlier this year.
“However, since the plot of lands granted to the families were rocky and non-cultivable, they refused to accept the same. And now, we have initiated action to provide them cultivable agricultural land in the Thangadh region from the government waste land,” said an officer of the directorate, adding that the decision was taken by the government while considering the episode as “exceptional”.
On September 22-23, 2012, three dalits were killed and one seriously injured in police firing in Thangadh after they went to lodge a police complaint over a dalit’s scuffle with a local upper caste community member at the annual Tarnetar Fair in the town. The deceased include Mehul Rathod (17), Pankaj Bagda (17) and Prakash Parmar (25). Whereas, the injured was identified as Chhanabhai Vaniya.
After a lot of public agitation, the police had registered FIRs against some of the police officers in the case under various provisions of the IPC and Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prohibition of Atrocities) Act, popularly known as the Atrocity Act. Three of the accused police officers have been arrested in the episode, while one is on the run. The police had fired from different weapons including AK 47 assault rifle on the dalits when they were protesting against them.
The firing from AK 47 assault rifle was done by the commando of the then Jamnagar superintendent of police, Harikrishna Patel, who rushed to the spot at that time to control the situation since the then Surendranagar superintendent of police, Raghvendra Vatsa, was deployed at security bandobast in nearby Chotila town where the then chief minister, Narendra Modi, was addressing an election rally in the run-up to the 2012 Gujarat Assembly elections.
Following the incident, the state government had ordered a probe into the incident by the then principal secretary of Social Justice & Empowerment Department, Sanjay Prasad. Prasad has submitted its report to the Home Department, however, its findings have not been made public. In the recently concluded Budget Session of Gujarat Legislative Assembly, the state government had informed that the report was submitted and its findings and recommendations were under its consideration.
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