A sessions court agreed to expedite trial in the 2016 Una Dalit flogging case and hear the matter on a daily basis from July 29. The District and Sessions court of Veraval on Monday granted the plea filed by Vashram Sarvaiya, one of the eight Dalit victims.
In his plea filed on May 31 this year, Sarvaiya had submitted that much time had elapsed since he, his family members and relatives were assaulted by cow vigilantes, but they were still awaiting justice.
A group of purported cow vigilantes had allegedly assaulted Sarvaiya, his younger brother Ramesh, cousin Ashok and relative Bechar while they were skinning a cow carcass in Mota Samathiyala village in then Una taluka of Gir Somnath district on July 11, 2016. The cow vigilantes alleged that the four were skinning a slaughtered cow.
Vashram’s father Balu and mother Kunvar, and two relatives were also allegedly assaulted by the cow vigilantes when they tried to intervene.
The accused had later allegedly kidnapped Vashram, Ramesh, Ashok and Bechar and took them to Una, where they were allegedly tied to a car and flogged. The vicitms were also allegedly paraded in the town. The assailants had then abandoned the four Dalits near police station in Una town.
Videos of the alleged assault had gone viral on social media platforms and had led to a national outcry after BSP supremo Mayawati raised the incident in Parliament. Dalits had protested against the alleged assault across the state, leading to violence in many places. Many Dalits had also attempted suicide in protest. A police constable was allegedly killed during a Dalit protest in Amreli which had turned violent.
Then Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel had visited the victims in Mota Samadhiyala village 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 had also met the victims and demanded justice.
Subsequently, investigation into the case was transferred to Gujarat CID crime branch. The investigation had concluded that the Dalits were indeed skinning a cow which had been killed by lions in Bediya village. The CID-crime had 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 and head constable Kanji Chudasama for alleged dereliction of duty and helping other accused by forging documents.
The Dalits have been alleging that the state government has been reneging on promises it made in the immediate aftermath. The Dalits have been demanding a speedy trial, agricultural land, residential plots and assistance to build houses on them etc.
Police have filed charge-sheet against 34 accused 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, subjecting Scheduled Caste members to atrocities etc.