As many as 200 Dalits in Amreli district have threatened to convert to Buddhism alleging police inaction in conducting a fair probe into the death of a 29-year-old Dalit youth in judicial custody two weeks ago. This after police on Tuesday arrested undertrial prisoners on the charges of killing Sondarva during a brawl inside the Amreli sub-jail on June 14. The four — Shivraj Varu, Jamsinh Solanki, Kanu Satya and Laxman Vavadiya — had allegedly beat up Sondarva and smashed his head against the barrack wall after an argument. Sondarva, a resident of Dungarpur village who was arrested by Rajula police on June 12 for allegedly consuming liquor and was sent to jail after he failed to deposit bail money, died in a hospital on June 15.
“The accused had a fight with the victim inside the jail. No weapons were used in the attack and therefore, there wan’t any material related to the crime that we required to recover. Hence, we did not seek custody of the accused,” Amreli superintendent of police Jagdish Patel told The Indian Express on Wednesday. Police said that while Varu, a resident of Dudhala village in Jafrabad taluka of Amreli is facing trial in a case of attempt to murder. Solanki, Satya and Vavadiya have been lodged in judicial custody after their arrest in a murder case. Satya and Vavadiya are residents of Rajula.
Dalits as well as the family members of the Sondarva expressed unhappiness over the police probe and reached the collector’s office on Wednesday to take forms for conversion. They alleged that Saundarva died due to police torture. “The post-mortem report suggests that Sondarva was beaten up three to four days before he was sent to jail. That means he was tortured during police remand. He might have been thrashed by the jail staff too during judicial custody,” Dalit leader Navchetan Parmar alleged. “We want the CBI to investigate the case. We do not have any faith in the police,” he said.
“To give a strong message to the government, around 200 Dalits from Dungar and other adjoining places have decided to leave Hinduism and embrace Buddhism, for which many of them have collected forms from the the collector’s office. We will submit these forms in the coming days,” said Parmar, who is leading the agitation. He announced that these 200 Dalits will start their journey towards embracing Buddhism by immersing idols and photographs of Hindu gods and goddesses, kept in their homes, in Thebi dam of the district on Wednesday.
“Even if the government orders CBI inquiry, we will not step back from our decision to covert in protest of such an injustice. If needed, we will also dig out Saundarva’s body from the grave and march to the collector’s office on July 7 to raise our demand for a fair probe,” Parmar said. Earlier, Sondarva’s family had refused to accept his body demanding a fair probe into the incident. Following a day-long protest, they had claimed the body after getting an assurance of a fair probe from the police as well as the district administration.
with PTI inputs