A 17-year-old Muslim youth is among the nine persons who were arrested by police on Monday for the alleged assault on Dalits in Una town of Gujarat’s Gir Somnath district. The boy’s father Tuesday said his son was forced to hit Dalits to prove that Muslims too were with cow vigilantes.
“I had sent my son out to buy bananas from a shop near the bus station. But as he reached there, Pramodgiri Goswami and others came there in their car and pulled the four Dalits out of the vehicle and tied them to the car. My son stopped there out of curiosity. While he was watching from a distance, others in the gau rakshak group asked him to take a turn to beat up the Dalits and thereby show that Muslims also stood against cow slaughter. Despite my son’s hesitation, Pramodgiri thrust a strip in his hands and exhorted him to beat up the Dalits,” claimed the boy’s father.
The father also claimed that he had video evidence to prove his claim that his minor son was forced to be a part of the mob which assaulted the four Dalits. “I admit that he has beaten up the Dalit brothers and, therefore, he is guilty. But he was made to be part of the conspiracy without him knowing what it would mean,” the father said. He added that he knew Goswami, who was reportedly leading the gang of gau rakshaks.
The boy’s father runs a transport business and is also a collector of antique articles. Talking about his son, he said, “After his health failed, we stopped sending him to school last year. This year, he had applied for admission to a diploma engineering course. But the case has ruined that prospect.
The teenager was arrested by Gir Somnath police late on Monday night and was sent to Observation Home For Boys in Rajkot.
Kiritkunar Joshi, deputy superintendent of police (SC, ST Cell), said the youth was part of the mob that thrashed the Dalits, first at Mota Samadhiyala, a village in Una taluka, and later in Una town. “The teenager is a friend of another accused named Deepak Shiyal. The boy had gone to Mota Samadhiyala riding pillion on Shiyal’s motorbike. But, as of now, there is no evidence that the boy beat up the Dalits in Mota Samadhiyala also,” said Joshi.
The boy’s father pleaded ignorance about this. “Deepak is my neighbour and a friend. It is possible that he may have taken my son to Mota Samadhiyala. But there is no photo or video to establish his presence there,” he said.
The boy’s father said the family has nothing against Dalits. “We are not against the Dalit community. I again confess my son is guilty of beating up the four Dalits. But that was a mistake by a minor boy. We are ready to sit on dharna with Dalits if they so wish,” he said.
While Pramodgiri was arrested by police on July 12, a day after the Dalits were beaten up, Shiyal was nabbed on Monday. Police have also seized Shiyal’s motorcycle.