TEN DAYS after he allegedly committed suicide, the family of Dhiru Gujarati finally performed his last rites as police registered an FIR against “policemen” for allegedly driving him to suicide on Tuesday. Gujarati was a witness in the alleged rape and murder of a Patidar woman in Mandavi village of Gariyadhar taluka in Bhavnagar district, as his family had refused to cremate him alleging police had tortured and forced him to take his life.
Gujarati, a 45-year-old Patidar had allegedly consumed poison on his agricultural farm in Mandavi village and committed suicide on 26th of last month. He had taken the extreme step hours after he appeared before police in connection with the rape and murder of a 49-year-old Patidar woman on December 1 last year. While a postmortem had confirmed poisoning as the cause of his death, family members as well as local leaders of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) had alleged that Gujarati was driven to suicide by police.
Gariyadhar police had registered a case of accidental death on March 26 after Gujarati allegedly took his own life. However, Gujarati’s family refused to perform his last rites until a case was registered against policemen, who, they claimed were responsible for driving him to suicide. The deadlock had continued for nine days until Monday night when Bhavnagar district collector Harshad Patel and SP Deepankar Trivedi accepted the family’s three demands—booking policemen for abetting Gujarati’s suicide, conducting narco test on the sole accused arrested and other suspects in the case of rape and murder of the woman and handing over the investigation of the rape and murder case of some other agencies.
As agreed, Gujarati’s wife Sonal gave her complaint to Gariyadhar police on Tuesday morning. Based on her complaint, Gariyadhar police booked “policemen” under IPC Sections 306 and 114 for abetting Gujarati’s suicide, at 8:30 am on Tuesday and in-charge deputy superintendent of police (DySP) of Palitana division, Vanrajsinh Manjariya was assigned the investigation.
Hours after the FIR was registered at Gariyadhar police station, Gujarati’s funeral procession was taken out from his home and he was cremated later in the morning. BJP MLA from Dhari, Nalin Kotadiya who has been openly supporting the agitation of PAAS demanding quota for Patidars attended the funeral. In-charge DySP of Palitana and sub-divisonal magistrate of Palitana were also present.
Deepankar Trivedi said that they would thoroughly investigate Gujarati’s death. “The case of accidental death which had initially registered after Gujarati’s death will now become part of the FIR registered under Section 306. Such a case can be investigated by a head constable. But we have assigned the probe to an officer of DySP rank as we are very keen to know as to why Gujarati committed suicide,” the SP told The Indian Express.
“The family performed Gujarati’s last rites after the police registered FIR against accused policemen. However, we had also demanded that the policemen be booked under Atrocities Act also as Gujarati’s wife Sonal, who is the complainant is a tribal. We shall approach court of the police don’t ad relevant sections,” said Babu Mangukia, advocate of the family.
Inspector general of police of Bhavnagar range, Amit Kumar Vishwakarma confirmed to The Indian Express that they had summoned Gujarati as witness in the rape and murder case. “We had summoned him three-four times as a witness. He was one of the many persons whom we had questioned in connection with the case,” Vishwakarma, who is heading the special investigation team (SIT) probing the rape and murder case said.
Wife of a farmer, the 49-year-old Patidar woman was allegedly kidnapped, raped and murdered in Mandavi on December 1 last year. Initially, Gariyadhar police had conducted investigation in the case. However, the probe was later handed over to Local Crime Branch of Bhavnagar. But after leaders of PAAS and Sardar Patel Group, another organisation leading the Patidar quota stir alleged that police had been shielding real culprits, the investigation was handed over to the SIT headed by the Bhavnagar IG.
Vishwakarma said that police have arrested one accused—Atul Baraiya— so far for the rape and murder of the woman. Baraiya is presently in judicial custody.