Dead silence in Than a day after police firing

dalits’ death ‘Killer’ cop suspended as CID probes,govt announces Rs 2-lakh compensation

Written by Hiral Dave | Published: September 25, 2012 6:03 am

dalits’ death ‘Killer’ cop suspended as CID probes,govt announces Rs 2-lakh compensation

On Monday,an eerie silence gripped Than town in Surendranagar district where three dalit youths died in police firing on Saturday and Sunday.

The kin of victims who had refused to take their bodies finally relented and performed their last rites in the morning,but through the day,even the bylanes and alleys in the town remained deserted,except for the presence of policemen.

On Sunday,the violence erupted at Than at a time when Chief Minister Narendra Modi was about to begin his Swami Vivekanand Yuva Vikas Yatra from nearby Limbdi in Surendranagar district,just 50 km away.

On Saturday,the police had opened fire on a group of dalits demanding action against the Bharwads who had allegedly beaten up dalit youths during the famous Tarnetar fair organised by Than Nagarpalika. The firing incident happened at the railway crossing that divides the localities populated by dalits and Bharwads,who are shepherds.

At the same spot,the police opened fire again the next day,killing two more dalit youths. “The two were shot in a matter of three minutes,” said Natubhai Parmar,uncle of Prakash Parmar,who was hit by three three bullets,all in the chest,and died along with 17-year-old Mehul Rathod.

Natubhai was among the protesters. He said while they did pelt stones,the police never resorted to lathicharge or firing in the air before opening fire at the crowd.

By the time CM’s function ended around 1.30 pm,the mob was dispersed.

“Police did not even help us shift the injured to hospital. We took the injured on our shoulders to Than Civil Hospital,” said Dana Rathod,a dalit leader from the town whose nephew Sumara was hit by a bullet while he was returning from the fair.

The road cut by the railway crossing was still strewn with big and small stones that were pelted by the mob the previous day. Three dark patches,within a distance of less than 30 metres from each other,were where the three youths fell.

Of the 50,000-odd inhabitants of the town,around 10,000 are dalits. They had been accusing S-I Jadeja of supporting Bharwads against them and demanding his transfer. Though the transfer orders came in July,Jadeja was still serving there since as he was not relieved by the district police headquarters.

On August 30,dalits sat on dharna again,demanding Jadeja’s transfer.

In another twist,the Than Nagarplalika,which traditionally organises Tarnetar fair,had roped in a private firm owned by the Bharwads to organise the fair.

“As the fair’s management was in the hands of Bharwads,they abused and beat us up on the last day,” said Pravin Gogia,who received injuries on Saturday night after being allegedly beaten up by the Bharwads.

Dalit ministers in the Modi cabinet,Fakirsinh Vaghela and Ramanlal Vora,had visited Rajkot Civil Hospital Sunday night after the victims’ families refused to take their bodies. The two ministers were able to pacify them only after promising an inquiry by CID.

In-charge DGP Chittaranjan Singh said CID (crime) DIG R V Jotangia had been asked to investigate the incident. “He will probe if there was any negligence on the part of police and if it is proved,action will be taken against them,” said Singh.

PSI suspended

Police sub-inspector Jadeja,against whom the dalits had been demanding a case of murder,was on Monday suspended. The state government also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of victims.

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