The office of Gujarat Governor O P Kohli has refused an appointment to Dalit victims of caste-based atrocities, including parents of a soldier who was killed allegedly by upper-caste members six years ago at their village in Surendranagar district.
A group of 17 Dalits from several villages and towns of Saurashtra have been sitting in protest at Satyagraha Chhavni here for one month, seeking from the Gujarat government redressal of their various demands.
On October 4, the slain soldier’s father Jahabhai Rathod, a resident of Karadi village in Surendranagar, had written to Raj Bhavan, seeking to meet the Governor along with other victims. The Dalits, however, recently received a letter from Raj Bhavan, written by Section Officer D P Shah, stating “…your appointment with the Governor of Gujarat could not be fixed, hence the same is regretted.”
The Dalit protesters claim that they have faced atrocities like murder of a family member or friend, social boycott, forced migration, false prosecution, and willful negligence by police in investigation of some cases.
Expressing shock over the denial for appointment, human rights activist Raju Solanki said: “The Governor is going to a number of functions of lesser importance and he is denying an appointment to the Dalit victims… I feel sorry that the Governor has proved that his office is nothing, but a constitutional ornament.”
Jahabhai’s wife Jethiben has also written a letter to the Governor, seeking an appointment to demand justice for her soldier-son Dinesh. There is no response from the Governor’s office on her request, so far.
Dinesh, who had received four gallantry awards from the Army, had come home in March 2010. According to Jethiben, some people belonging to Kathi Darbar community were gambling near their house and so, Dinesh rebuked them. She said “the same set of people had shot dead Dinesh in broad daylight the next day”.
Five persons were arrested, but all of them were acquitted by court in September 2014, allegedly due to poor investigation by police. Jethiben has also sought to return the four gallantry awards given to her son.