ON THE third anniversary of the Una Dalit atrocities case, the victim’s family repeated their demand that state government withdraw cases filed against the community members during the violence in the aftermath of the Una case.
In a memorandum submitted to the sub-divisional magistrate of Una on July 11, Vashram Sarvaiya, one of the victims, said, “In 2016, people of Scheduled Castes in Mota Samadhiyala village of Una taluka were beaten up publicly by so-called gau rakshaks (cow vigilantes) and were subjected to atrocities by parading them. Rallies were taken out, memorandums were submitted and representations were made at many places in Gujarat as well as in many parts of India by people of Scheduled Castes, demanding immediate legal action against those so-called gau rakshaks and justice for the victims’ family. However, the state government filed false complaints against the protesters and jailed them.”
Sarvaiya demanded that the government withdraw the cases filed against the community members in the aftermath of the attack on them on July 11, 2016. “After the atrocities on Dalits in Una, people from (our) community took out rallies and submitted memorandums in support of the victims. We demand that the government withdraw all the false cases filed against those who were part of the agitation. If false cases are not withdrawn against them and are instead sentenced, we Dalits of Mota Samadhiyala village who were subjected to atrocities, will serve such sentences,” the memorandum further said.
At least seven cases of rioting and damaging public property as well as assault on police were registered in Saurashtra during the protest against the assault on Dalits in Mota Samadhiyala village. A policeman was killed during the clashes in Amreli and a few Dalits were booked for murder.
“As many as 15 people have been convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment in Upleta taluka of Rajkot district and three others in a similar case in Bhayavadar in Upleta taluka. Cases are pending against Dalits in Shapar-Veraval and Gondal in Rajkot district, in Jamnagar and Amreli districts also. Many cases were filed in Ahmedabad and other districts too. Police have arrested Daltis and jailed them. But those who assaulted us in Mota Samadhiyala are out on bail and are roaming free. We demand that bail of all those accused of assaulting us in Mota Samadhiyala be cancelled,” Vashram told The Indian Express.
Vashram said that of the 43 accused in the case, five were in judicial custody and the rest were released on bail.
A group of cow vigilantes allegedly assaulted Vashram, his younger brother Ramesh, cousin Ashok and relative Bechar while they were skinning a dead cow in Mota Samadhiyala village in Una taluka of Gir Somnath district on July 11, 2016. The assailants accused the Dalits of slaughtering a cow. When Vashram’s father Balu and mother Kunvar tried to intervene, the accused assaulted them also. They attacked Arjan Babariya and Devshi Babariya, both resident of neighbouring Bediya village and relatives of Sarvaiya.
The accused, from the neighbouring villages, then allegedly kidnapped Vashram, Ramesh, Ashok and Bechar in their SUV, took them to Una town and flogged them before abandoning them near Una police station. Videos of the accused beating half-naked Dalits went viral, causing a nation-wide outrage among Dalits. BSP chief Mayawati raised the incident in the Rajya Sabha.
Dalits in the state went on protest for around a week that turned violent in many places and cases were filed against several protesters. The Sarvaiyas have been demanding withdrawal of cases for the past three years. A special court in Veraval. district headquarters of Gir Somnath, is scheduled to start hearing the Mota Samadhiyala atrocity case on daily basis from July 29.