Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani on Wednesday met with family members of Mukesh Vaniya, a Dalit ragpicker who was allegedly beaten to death in Gujarat, and said the state government wasn’t taking strict action against those attacking Dalits.
Mevani met with Vaniya’s family members in the Parnala village of Surendrangar district. In a video the legislator tweeted, Mevani asked Vaniya’s widow, Champa, if she had stated the facts of the case accurately to the police. He also asked her if the proper paperwork had been done at the Rajkot civil hospital after the assault.
Mevani also promised all possible help to the family.
“My sister, the entire case rests on you. Whatever has happened, you get it recorded. The entire community is with you,” the independent MLA told Champa in the video.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mevani said the Gujarat government, led by chief minister Vijay Rupani, was not taking strict action against those attacking Dalits.
“This is the reason such elements are feeling emboldened, and they are attacking Dalits time and
again. The government has announced a compensation of Rs 8 lakh. But we don’t want compensation. Take it back. We want justice,” he said.
Vaniya, his wife, and a relative, were allegedly attacked by five persons because they were suspected of theft. Vaniya and the two women were scrounging for metal scrap Sunday near a factory on the outskirts of Rajkot.
The five accused allegedly chased the two women away after assaulting them and overpowered Vaniya. They then allegedly used a belt to tie Vaniya to a hook, and took turns to assault him with a pipe. Champa returned to the factory with other relatives, where they found an unconscious Vaniya. He was taken to the Rajkot civil hospital where he was declared dead. A video of the assault on Vaniya later went viral on social media and on local TV news channels.
Originally a resident of the Parnala village, Vaniya’s wife told the police that they had gone to Shapar just five days before the incident to earn a living selling metal scrap from the industrial cluster.
Police have arrested four men, including the owner of the factory, and have booked them for murder and under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. They are presently in police custody. A juvenile has also been detained.
The National Human Rights Commission took suo moto cognisance of the incident and has sought a report from the Gujarat government within four weeks. It has also sought the details of the relief provided to the victim’s family.