Monday, April 28, 2014

Probe into killing of 3 Dalit youth in 2012 hasn't progressed as cops were sent with Modi to Mumbai, Meerut

By Our Representative
Why could the officials investigating into the death of three Dalit youths on September 22, 2012 in police firing at Thangadh in Surendranagar district in Gujarat fail to go ahead with their job though three and half years have passed following the gruesome incident? If a recent report submitted to Gujarat’s home department by inspector general of police, CID (crime) Anil Pratham is any indication, one of the major reasons behind it has been “lack of staff”, which got busy in Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s variegated security concerns!
The cops, who were part of the investigating team probing the Thangadh firing, had to go to “Mumbai, Meerut and Himmatnagar” to take care of Modi's security early this month, the report shockingly reveals, adding, “There was not even a writer available to jot down all the details in the investigation already done, so that it could be submitted on January 28, 2014, as required…” This happened “despite the fact that there was a need to find out why crisis management could not be carried.” 
The report was obtained by Navsarjan Trust on the basis on a right to information (RTI) plea. It said, “testimonies of the steps taken or needed to be taken remain to be obtained”, adding, “Only copies of different orders could be obtained, and details of the vehicles damaged during the incident, which led to firing, alone could be obtained.” All this happened also because one of the officials investigating in the incident, Dr Girish Pandya, deputy superintendent of police, Viramgam division, was transferred to Idar to head reserve police unit at Monderi.”
At the same time, the report appears to give a partial clean chit to police firing by saying referring not once but several times over on how the crowd (consisting of Dalits), numbering around 2,000, resorted to stone throwing, use of abusive language, and burning of private and official vehicles, causing a damage to the tune of Rs 20,000. “This is clear from various testimonies”, Pratham points out, adding, “The Railway Police and cops of the reserved police force have testified this in their statements.”
Despite all this, Pratham admits, “A thorough job in investigating the incident on the basis of the available evidence is yet to be done.” He adds, “While there appears to be clarity on different issues at the first sight, there are still lots of gaps which need to be filled up before reaching a final conclusion. This is the reason why the investigation into the incident is still continuing. The investigations should be done on the basis of different government orders from time to time on when police firing should be resorted to.”
On September 22, 2012, three Dalit youths were killed after police fired at Thangadh town in Surendranagar district, following what officials termed as “clashes” of the Dalits with the Bharwad community members. The trouble between Dalits and the Bharwads started at the Tarnetar fair, which is an annual festival. Officials claimed, the police was forced to open fire after lathicharge and teargas shells failed.
Instead of taking action against the cops who opened fire, Dalit activists allege, an FIR was lodged against eight Dalits, who were jailed. Only after the CID (crime) took charge of the case that cases against the Dalits were dropped and charges of attempt to murder slapped on them were dropped. Later, the CID (crime) arrested a police sub-inspector and two other policemen on murder charges in connection with the police firing at Thangadh.
These were sub-inspector Kuldipsinh P Jadeja, constable Yogesh Gadhvi and assistant sub-inspector Nathubha Andubha. The CID probe also revealed that the accused policemen had used AK-47 to fire on Dalits. The police affidavit, submitted by Superintendent of Police R S Bhagora, had said that the weapons used included "revolver, (.303) rifle, carbine gun and AK-47". The affidavit, dated November 6, 2013, opposed the anticipatory bail petition of Jadeja and noted that the motive behind the police firing was "hatred" and "prejudice" against Dalits.

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