A Dalit labourer allegedly committed suicide in front of the office of Ramod panchayat in Rajkot district, accusing police of inaction in a complaint, lodged by him against the village sarpanch and her son, for alleged atrocity and corruption.
Police said Mukesh Parghi (35), a resident of Ramod village, went to the panchayat office around 9.30 am and consumed poison. He was first taken to a government hospital in Gondal, from where he was referred to Rajkot Civil Hospital. Later, he was shifted to a private hospital in Gondal where he was declared dead on arrival.
Following this, scores of Dalits thronged the government hospital in Gondal where his body was shifted for post-mortem. Seeking action against sarpanch Bhanu Padariya’s son Amit, a few members of the panchayat and police, Parghi’s family refused to claim his body. They later relented after government officials and police assured them of strict action against the accused.
A complaint was filed by Parghi’s uncle Govind, based on which Kotda Sangani police booked Amit, Vipul Shekhda and panchayat members Pravin Thummar and Kishor Bhuva on the charges of subjecting a scheduled caste member to atrocity and abetment to suicide. Rajkot Rural SP Antrip Sood said Parghi had lodged a complaint at Kotda Sanagani police station a week ago regarding an alleged corruption in laying an underground drainage line in his village and threatened to commit suicide, if action was not taken. “The same complaint was marked to the taluka development officer (TDO) of Kotda Sangani. Following the threat, we had deployed police at the village panchayat office. Still, Parghi managed to consume poison,” Rajkot Rural SP Sood said.
He added they would inquire what the policemen, deployed there, were doing when the incident took place. The SP further said they did not register an FIR following Parghi’s complaint since it was also marked to the TDO.
“It was a matter concerning the village panchayat, the Kotda Sangani taluka panchayat and Rajkot district panchayat. It was for the district officials to inquire first, if prima facie there was any case of corruption.”
Kotda Sangani TDO Jagdishsinh Gohil said that they had already initiated action after receiving Parghi’s complaint on June 3.
“It was a very generic complaint wherein he had mentioned that Amit had abused him when he sought an income certificate from the panchayat some time ago. He had also complained that the sarpanch was acting arbitrarily in the underground drainage project. Following his complaint, we had sent a notice to the village sarpanch with details of the allegations and sought a reply within eight days. While we were awaiting her reply, Parghi committed suicide,” the TDO said.
Kotda Sanagani Police sub-Inspector Jayendrasinh Rana said they had followed up Parghi’s complaint. “We had sent an assistant sub-inspector to Ramod village on Monday to record Parghi’s statement. He was, however, not present at home nor could he be contacted over phone. Therefore, the police team recorded his wife’s statement. Apprehending he might attempt something untoward, we had posted policemen at village panchayat today (Tuesday). It was they who snatched the bottle of poison from Parhgi and rushed him to hospital,” claimed Rana.