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A 60-year-old man injured in the recent clash at Halvad town in Morbi district died on Sunday while undergoing treatment at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital. With his death, the toll in the caste violence in Morbi and Surendranagar districts following the murder of Indrasinh Zala has risen to three. The mobile Internet services too were suspended in the two districts.
The family members of Keta Nagji Vakatar — a farmer-cum-cattle breeder who had suffered stab wounds — have refused to claim the body, demanding immediate arrest of those responsible for his death and compensation from the government. Keta, a resident of Chitrodi village in Halvad taluka, and his younger brother Vala were injured when a mob allegedly fired in the air and attacked people at Gopal Dham on the outskirts of Halvad on Thursday evening.
Police said Keta had sustained stab wounds on his thigh and cheek, while Vala was hit on head with a blunt object. “Initially, Keta’s injuries were assessed not to be so serious and he was even discharged from Morbi hospital after treatment on Friday. After reaching home, he had complaints and therefore, he was taken to a private hospital in Rajkot. From Rajkot, he was referred to Ahmedabad where he died Sunday morning. We have not received his post-mortem report and therefore, yet to know the exact cause of the death,” Rana Bhojani, in-charge police inspector of Halvad, told The Indian Express.
Police in Halvad had arrested 11 men on Saturday evening in connection with the violence at Gopal Dham. “All the arrested accused are residents of Jamnagar city or Jamnagar districts. We produced them in court on Sunday and the court has sent them to police custody for eight days,” said Bhojani. Earlier, Rana Shiyar, a resident of Golasan village in Halvad taluka, had died following a bullet injury during the violence at Gopal Dham.
According to Morbi police, members belonging to Zala’s caste were on their way to Dhrangadhra town in Surendranagar district to attend his condolence meeting when stones were pelted on their cars near Gopal Dham, leading to the violence. The other person to be killed in the caste violence was Rana Bharwad. He was stabbed to death on Thursday evening allegedly by nine men at Soladi village of Dhrangadhra taluka of Surendranagar district.
Morbi and Surendranagar districts have witnessed violence since Zala, who was associated with BJP and also elected president of Dhrangadhra municipality in 2002-03, was hacked to death on July 7 near Dhrangadhra town. Zala, accused in the murder of one Popat Bharvad in Dhrangadhra in 2012, was on interim bail. Zala’s younger brother Ajitsinh in the police complaint has stated that his brother was attacked by members of Popat’s caste due to hostilities created by the 2012 murder. He has named 14 people as accused.
After Keta’s death on Sunday, security was beefed up in Halvad. “After the death (of Keta), mobile Internet services were suspended today as police had apprehension that the services could be misused by someone during the victim’s funeral. It will remain suspended till Monday afternoon. However, the situation in the district is peaceful,” Morbi district collector Ishwar Patel said. Surendrangar collector Udit Agrawal also said that the service was taken down for 24 hours “to stop circulation of rumours and to maintain peace in the district.”
Meanwhile, Keta’s family members claimed to refuse his body as groups of his caste gathered at the Ahmedabad hospital. “We respect what our community leaders are deciding in this situation,” Vala, Keta’s brother, said from his hospital bed in Ahmedabad.