After refusing to meet them last month, Gujarat Governor O P Kohli has called the parents of a Dalit soldier from Surendranagar district — Dinesh Rathod, who was killed allegedly by some people of upper-caste community in 2010, with an appointment at Raj Bhavan here on Tuesday. While all the accused in the murder case were acquitted allegedly owing to poor probe by police, the soldier’s parents — Jahabhai and Jethiben — have been sitting on protest at Satyagraha Chhavni for over two months.
The Governor’s Office has changed its stand on meeting the Dalits after a socio-political organisation from Gandhinagar, Democratic People’s Association Gujarat (DPAG), wrote to the former expressing their ‘shock’ over the Governor’s refusal to meet the protesting parents of the slain Dalit soldier who wanted to return their son’s four gallantry awards last month.
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Jahabhai and Jethiben from Karadi village in Sayla taluka of Surendranagar district were sitting on protest along with many other victims of caste discrimination from Saurashtra region at Satyagraha Chhavni.
On October 4, Jahabhai had written to the Governor’s Office on behalf of all the victims while seeking an appointment to meet him in person to represent their individual cases. Jethiben had also written to the Governor to meet him to return the four gallantry awards that Dinesh had received from the Army during service.
However, the said request by Jahabhai was rejected by the Governor’s Office.
“…your appointment with the Governor of Gujarat could not be fixed, hence the same is regretted,” read the letter from Raj Bhavan to Jahabhai.
Though, On October 27, president of DPAG, B P Parmar, wrote to the Governor in this connection.
“We are deeply shocked to learn that…your excellency has refused the appointment to the parents of the slain soldier Dinesh Rathod who was four Army medallist (sic)…In a democracy every citizen has the right to present the grievances before the highest authority of the state, if he/she feels denial of justice from the head of the state administration…They are facing so many problems, feel helpless and clueless in Gandhi’s and Sardar’s Gujarat,” reads the letter from Parmar to the Governor.
Parmar’s letter has been replied by the Raj Bhavan on November 9 in which the former has been asked to meet the Governor on November 15 at 10.45 am and to bring Jahabhai and Jethiben along with him.
The letter reads, “…your appointment along with Jahabhai Rathod and Jethiben Rathod (parents of slain Dalit soldier Dinesh Rathod) with the Governor of Gujarat is fixed at 10.45 am on Tuesday, the 15th November, 2016 at Raj Bhavan, Gandhinagar.”
Ahmedabad-based human rights activist Raju Solanki said, “We have been intimated by B P Parmar of DPAG about the appointment with the Governor. So, we will be going to meet him. We hope that the parents of the slain soldier get some relief from the Governor to lead honourable life.”