November 26, 2019 12:43:06 am
A 27-year-old Dalit activist cum law student was allegedly assaulted at the behest of the sarpanch of Khopala village in Botad, on Sunday afternoon, after the victim allegedly sought details of government projects in the village through Right to Information (RTI) applications, said Botad police.
According to the first information report (FIR) lodged, Amit Parmar (27), a native of Khopala village in Botad, is a member of ‘Bahujan Tiger Sena’ and is pursuing LLB degree. On Sunday around 2.30pm, Parmar was assaulted by four men at the behest of sarpanch family, when he was on his way to Lakhanka village from Khopala with his elder brother, Vinod Parmar. The victim received multiple fractures on his legs and hands and is admitted to Bhavnagar civil hospital where his condition is stated to be critical.
Amit told police that the accused allegedly assaulted him after he submitted an RTI application seeking information on the grant given to the sarpanch for maintenance of houses under Indira Housing Scheme and use of pastoral land in the village.
“Four men on a motorcycle and a scooter intercepted us when we were on our way to Lakhanka on my motorcycle. They started beating me up with iron rods and hurled casteist abuses at me, asking me to withdraw the RTI application that I filed recently. They warned me to not mess with the sarpanch’s family in Khopala and stop organising meeting of Bahujan Sena in the village and submitting RTI applications. My elder brother was also roughed up and he called on 108 for emergency ambulance,” Amit said in the FIR.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Mukesh Parmar (28), elder brother of Amit, said, “We got a house under Indira Housing Scheme in the year 2000 but till date, there is no electricity or water connection in our house. The sarpanch receives a grant of Rs 1 lakh every year for the maintenance of the houses under the Indira Housing Scheme. My brother sought reply from the government regarding how much grant has been allotted to the sarpanch family in the name of Indira Housing Scheme in the past 20 years. He had also campaigned to remove the mango and cotton saplings from the bovine pastoral land in the village, illegally grown by the sarpanch. Since then, they developed enmity towards my brother,” said Mukesh Parmar.
Taking cognisance of the complaint, police booked sarpanch Vimla Gabani, her husband Jasmat Gabani, son Sanjay Gabani and four unknown persons under Indian Penal Code sections 324, 325, 504, 506 (2) for causing hurt by dangerous weapon, causing grievous hurt, intentional insult and criminal intimidation along with sections of the Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Act. According to Amit’s family, the Gabani family has been in power at sarpanch level for the past 20 years in Khopala village.
Speaking to The Indian Express, RK Prajapati, in charge of Gadhada police station in Botad, said, “The victim has claimed that he was assaulted due to his RTI application. We will probe the matter and question the village panchayat body. The case has now been transferred to SC/ST cell of Botad Police. No arrest has been made yet.”
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