Two days after state Social Justice & Empowerment Minister of Gujarat Ishwar Parmar said that he has not received any official representation from anyone, demanding withdrawal of cases against Dalits, filed in the aftermath of statewide agitation that followed the Una flogging incident in 2016, a Mehsana-based human rights activist has written to the minister, asking him to move a proposal to the state Home Department for dropping 74 ‘false’ criminal cases registered against Dalits during the agitation, two years ago.
The demand comes in the wake of the state government withdrawing 245 criminal cases against Patidar youths filed during the community’s 2015 reservation agitation. The minister, meanwhile, said that he has already sought details about the cases registered against Dalits following the Una flogging incident.
The rights activist, Kaushik Parmar, in his representation referred to the minister’s statement, saying he was “very happy with the (minister’s) statement” that he would take up the issue of withdrawing the cases with the state Home Department.
“You must be knowing that after the Una flogging incident, around 74 false criminal cases were registered against Dalits… In Amreli, a case of (IPC section) 302 (murder) was filed and Dalits have been made accused.” Kaushik has also listed the district-wise number of cases registered against Dalits during the agitation.
As per the list, five cases were registered in Ahmedabad city, eight in Rajkot, three in Gandhinagar, two in Aravalli, six in Mehsana, 16 in Rajkot rural, three in Morbi, seven in Jamnagar, six in Surendranagar, six in Junagadh, four in Gir-Somnath, two in Botad, two in Amreli and one each in Ahmedabad rural, Sabarkantha, Porbandar and Patan districts.
The representation stated that following the Una incident, 23 Dalits reportedly attempted suicide and one of them, a youth from Dhoraji, also died. The activist has written that a proposal to withdraw such cases be moved to the Home Department.
Speaking to The Indian Express on Sunday, the minister said, “ I have been following the issue. I have sought details like number of cases, the kind of charges that were applied. We have to see which cases can be withdrawn and which cannot. But, one thing is sure that we will be making the proposal (before the Home Department) for sure,” he added.
It is to be noted that following the violent Patidar reservation agitation, the Gujarat government had held peace talks with the agitating Patidars. As part of an “agreement”, a number of criminal cases that were registered against Patidars were withdrawn by the government.
Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja had told the Assembly in March this year that of the total 537 criminal cases registered against Patidars, 245 were withdrawn by the state government. The remaining cases were such that the government could not withdraw, citing “technical reasons”.