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A DAY after a 25-year-old Dalit man died during a raid on what the police claim was a gambling den in Surat, members of nine Dalit organisations and the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind’s local unit took out a rally here Monday to protest against what they alleged was a “murder”.
The protesters claimed Sub-Inspector V S Patel beat up the youth, Mahendra Makwana, leading to his death. The sub-inspector has said Makwana succumbed to an epileptic seizure.
On Monday, an FIR was registered against Patel under Section 3(2)(5) of the Prevention of Atrocities Act and IPC Section 302 at Chowk Bazar police station following a complaint by the victim’s father, Gaman Makwana.
Patel lodged a counter-complaint against a mob of 80 people, which included women, and accused them of attempted murder. The FIR was registered at Chowk Bazaar police station. A video of Patel purportedly getting beaten up by the mob was circulated on social media on Monday.
Stating that an FIR was registered against Patel, Surat Police Commissioner Ashish Bhatia said, “We have directed Assistant Commissioner of Police (A-division) Himanshu Solanki to investigate the case. We have started inquiry against PSI Patel.”
In the morning, hundreds of protesters from organisation such as Samast Dalit Samaj, Surat; Jaimat-e-Ulema-e-Hind; Sauras-htra Dalit Samaj; Maharashtrian Dalit Samaj; Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan Jharkhandwasi Samast Dalit Samaj; OBC, SC/ST Ekta Manch, Surat; Samast Dalit Adivasi Halpati Samaj, Surat city; Samast Valmiki Safai Kamdar Samaj; and Shiv Shakti Bhim Shakti Minority Foundation gathered near the statue of Dr B R Ambedkar on the city’s Ring road.
Led by Dalit Sena’s Suresh Sonavne, the rally wound up at the collector’s office, where the protesters handed a memorandum to Collector M S Patel, demanding strict action against the accused sub inspector and others. The community leaders also alleged that victims were being forced to withdraw or change their testimonies.
“The state government has failed to control the law and control situation. First, gaurakshaks beat up innocent Dalit men in Una, and now a policeman beats up a Dalit youth in Surat, leading to his death. These are just two incidents that were reported. There are many such incidents which are not getting reported,” Sonavne said.
Specifying that the victims in all such incidents are Dalits, he said, “We have demanded strict action in both incidents so that no one dares to repeat this in future.”
In his counter-complaint against the mob, Sub-Inspector Patel stated he was part of a raid to check gambling and drinking and found four youths gambling. “The moment they saw me in uniform, one of the youths, Mahendra Makwana, fell on the road and had an epileptic seizure. He later died,” it said.