The district and Sessions court of Veraval in Gir Somnath district on Monday granted a plea that sought that the trial in the 2016 Una atrocity case be expedited and ordered that the hearing in the matter be held on a daily basis from June 29.
Vashram Sarvaiya, the complainant, is one of the eight Dalit victims who were assaulted allegedly while they were skinning the carcass of a cow in Mota Samadhiyala village, and also allegedly kidnapped, taken to Una town and flogged on July 21, 2016. In his plea filed on May 31 this year, Sarvaiya said that much time had lapsed since his family members and relatives and himself were assaulted and subjected to atrocities by gau-rakshaks (cow vigilantes) but they were still waiting for justice.
Granting Sarvaiya’s plea on Monday, Additional Sessions Judge BL Choithani said, “… in the wider interest of justice, the following order is passed… The application is granted. It is ordered to conduct this matter on day-to-day basis for three months from 29/07/2019 onward.”
On July 11, 2016, a group of cow vigilantes allegedly assaulted Vashram, his younger brother Ramesh, cousin Ashok and relative Bechar while they were skinning the carcass of a cow in Mota Samathiyala village in then Una taluka of Gir Somnath district. When Vashram’s father Balu and mother Kunvar tried to intervene, the gau rakshaks assaulted them too. Sarvaiya’s relative Arjan Babariya from the neighbouring Bediya village and one other relative were also beaten up by the accused when they tried to help the victims. The accused later allegedly kidnapped Vashram, Ramesh, Ashok and Bechar in their car, took them to Una town and flogged them publicly after tying them to the car and parading them through the town. Eventually, the assailants abandoned the four Dalits near the police station in Una town.
At the time, videos of the assault went viral on social media platforms and led to a national outcry. BSP supremo Mayawati also flagged the incident in Parliament. Dalits hit the streets in all parts of the state, leading to violence in many places. Many Dalits attempted suicide in protest of the atrocities in Una while a police constable was allegedly killed during a Dalit protest in Amreli that turned violent.
Then Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel visited the victims in Mota Samadhiyala as well as in Rajkot civil hospital and assured them of help and justice. Top political leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Aravind Kejriwal, also met the victims and demanded justice for the Dalits.
Subsequently, investigation into the case was transferred to CID-crime. The investigation concluded that the Dalits had indeed been skinning a cow that had already been killed by lions in Bediya village. CID-crime arrested 43 accused, including then Una police inspector Nirmalsinh Zhala, police sub-inspector Narendra Pandey, assistant sub-inspector Kanchanben Parmar who was in-charge of Sanakhada outpost under which Mota Samadhiyala village falls, as well as constable Kanji Chudasama, for alleged dereliction of duty and helping the accused cow vigilantes by forging documents.
The Dalits have alleged that the state government has reneged on the promises it made in the wake of the incident. They have also been demanding a speedy trial, and compensation in the form of agricultural land, residential plots and assistance to build houses on them.
The police have filed a chargesheet against 34 accused persons in the Una court and against three juvenile accused in the juvenile justice board in Junagadh. The accused have been charged with attempt to murder as well as subjecting Scheduled Caste members to atrocities