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‘Aggression,negligence by cops led to deaths’

Social Justice and Empowerment department’s report also criticises police reaction following a clash

Written by Hiral Dave | Gandhinagar | Published: May 28, 2013 4:15:41 am

If not the aggression by young police officers and negligence by their seniors,the incident of Thangadh last year,wherein three dalit youths were killed in police firing,could have been avoided,said a report by the Social Justice and Empowerment department submitted to the Chief Minister Office recently.

“The report by the Social Justice and Empowerment Department principal secretary Sanjay Prasad was submitted to the Home department,which was forwarded to the Chief Minister Office,” said Additional Chief Secretary (Home) S K Nanda.

The Home department sources maintained that the report criticised the way the police force reacted following a clash between two groups of Bharwad and dalits in September 2012 and ended up killing three youths,only three months before the Assembly polls. Following intense protest from dalits,the state government had suspended four policemen,including Thangadh police sub-inspector K P Jadeja and ordered an inquiry by Prasad even as the investigation was handed over to CID (crime).

“The report said young officers acted in aggression and opened fire leading to three deaths in two separate incidents that occurred within 12 hours near a police station between September 22-23. Besides,there was delay by Sub-Magistrate Office in conducting inquiry and submitting its report into the incident of police firing,” said sources in Home department,adding,“The CMO is to take action on the report very soon.” In November 2012,in an affidavit to a court Surendranagar superintendent of police R S Bhagora said weapons used for firing included revolver,(.303) rifle,carbine gun and AK-47.

Then the incident had taken political colour when the Assembly elections were only a couple of months away. Now,the report has come to CMO when by-elections in Limbdi is scheduled for June 2.

Limbdi,an Assembly seat adjacent to Thangadh,then saw rallies and protest by the dominant voter group Kshrityas in favour of Jadeja,whereas Thangadh witnessed demands to sack him. The BJP lost Limbdi seat following Congress leader Soma Patel defeating former minister Kiritsinh Rana. The BJP has repeated Rana for by-election even as Congress has fielded Soma Patel’s son Pramod. A dalit youth had allegedly been beaten up by the Bharwads on September 21 after which the community filed a complaint against them with the Thangadh police station.

The following night,when the two groups clashed again near the police station,police intervened,following which the dalits allegedly clashed with police too. During the clash,sub-inspector Jadeja allegedly opened fire,injuring 17-year-old Prakash Amarsinh. The youth died at the Rajkot Civil Hospital.

Two groups had clashed with each other again on September 23 afternoon and when the police reached the spot,they allegedly pelted stones at them. The policemen again opened fire at the mob,killing two dalit youths — Mehul (16) and Prakash (24) — and injuring one.

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