Jethiben Rathod (65), a Dalit woman from Surendranagar district, who has been sitting on indefinite hunger strike at Satyagraha Chhavni here to protest the killing of her son, who was in the Indian Army, allegedly by upper-caste men, Friday sought the appointment with Gujarat Governor O P Kohli to return four gallantry awards that her son had received from the Army. Her son was allegedly killed by the upper-caste members of her village, Karadi in Sayla taluka, after after he rebuked them for gambling and creating nuisance near his house.
Jethiben has been sitting on protest, along with 15 other Dalits, mainly from Saurashtra region, who are allegedly the victims of caste-based atrocities, like rape, abduction, murder and forced migration. The protesters are united by their common demand for “justice”. Jethiben has urged the state government to reopen the case and get it re-investigated by CBI. She has also sought Rs 10 lakh as compensation.
Jethiben’s son, Dinesh, was in the Indian Army and in March 2010 he had come home on leave. According to Jethiben, some upper-caste men (Kathi Darbars) were gambling near their house and Dinesh had rebuked them not to do so. Keeping this in mind, she added, these men shot dead Dinesh in broad daylight the next day. Five persons were arrested in the case, but all of them were acquitted by concerned court, allegedly due to poor investigation by police in September 2014. One of the major grounds of acquittal was reportedly that the weapon recovered by police did not match with the bullets fired on Dinesh.
As a soldier of the Indian Army, Dinesh had got four gallantry awards. Now, protesting his murder and acquittal of the accused, Jethiben has written to the Governor, seeking his appointment to return the awards that her son had received. Jethiben, who has been admitted to Gandhinagar Civil Hospital after she fainted Thursday, has written in the letter to the Governor: “In this moment of pain and agony, I simply seek your appointment. I want to give back medals my son received for his gallantry and valour in the Indian Army. Will you give me a favour?”