Conceding “there is hooliganism going on in the name of self-proclaimed gau raksha samitis” and “we need to be more vigilant”, Gujarat Chief Secretary G R Aloria Thursday said that the men who flogged a Dalit family in Una videotaped the July 11 incident “for fun and uploaded it as a show of bravado”.
Asked about the Dalit protests raging in Saurashtra and north Gujarat, Aloria told The Indian Express that “social media has helped the Dalit victims of Una to assert themselves”.
“The accused were so brazen that they shot the video for fun and uploaded it as a show of bravado. They were making an example of it. The car of the accused had a board of the Shiv Sena and the accused had a visiting card that suggested they belonged to the Gau Raksha Samiti, Rajkot,” he said.
Asked about the complaint of the Una victims, Aloria said: “The police are still investigating it. The victims have made a few allegations against the local sarpanch of Mota Samadhiyala. The victims are saying that the sarpanch was objecting to construction activity by the family on land allotted for a common water well, that he called these hooligans to the village under the excuse of gau raksha to beat them up. We are checking this allegation.”
The FIR has been filed under IPC sections 307 (attempt to muder); 147 (punishment for rioting); 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon); 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object); 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement); 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person); 395 (punishment for dacoity); 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means); 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace).
According to FIR No. F127/2016, filed on July 12 at Una police station, complainant Vasaram Balubhai Sarvaiyya, resident of Mota Samadhiyala village, was engaged in “skinning of dead animals for leather”.
“We have invoked the harshest possible provisions of law,” Aloria said.
The FIR states: “Vasarambhai got information on his mobile from Najabhai Danabhai of Bediya village about his dead cow. Along with three others, Vasarambhai went to collect the dead cow in his own rickshaw. When he was skinning the dead cow in his own village, the five accused reached there in a Xylo car at around 10 am. They started attacking them (Vasaram and others) with knife, lathis and iron rods. The attackers took away their mobiles too. One more person from Bediya village joined them. Then, the accused took away four persons, including Vasarambhai, in their vehicle. They took them to Una bus stand, tied them with a rope to the back of the vehicle and again beat them with rods and lathis. Finally, as they reached close to the police station, as crowd gathered and police arrived, the accused ran away from the spot in their vehicle.”
While the FIR is silent about the presence of police at the bus stand when the Dalit family was being flogged, Aloria said: “Four policemen who were present at Una bus stand, witnessing the event at the spot, have been suspended.”
Of the seven victims, three were admitted to the Rajkot civil hospital while the remaining four have been discharged after treatment.
So far, 16 people have been arrested — 15 Hindus and a Muslim. These accused belong to different villages: Simar, Samtar, Gir Gadhda, Bediya, Kansari and Una.
The main accused are: Pramodgiri Rameshgiri of Simar, Balwant Dhirubhai of Una, Nagjibhai Ahir of Bediya, Nileshbhai Gohil, Satish Parmar of Simar and Dipak Siyal of Una.