Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cops were "indifferent" in filing FIR against culprits who attacked Dalit for fighting untouchability

Dalits of Jaspur village
By Our Representative
After the lapse of over a year, Jaspur village of Padra taluka in Vadodara district is once again in the spot. A year ago, on April 13, 2013, the Dalits of the village strongly protested against the dominant castemen providing separate seating arrangement for dinner to the Dalits during a public ceremony at the temple. Taking exception to this and saying that it amounted to treating them as “untouchables”, the Dalits, led by Shantilal Parmar, filed, with great difficulty, an anti-atrocities case against the organizers of the ceremony. “While meek action was taken against the culprits, a year later, the dominant caste leaders decided to retaliate”, Parmar alleged talking to Counterview.
On June 7, 2014, said Parmar, when his son Shashikant was on his way to buy milk at the local dairy, he was badly beaten up by those against whom complaint was filed a year ago. “The culprits surrounded my son from all sides. He was pushed by a tractor carrying bajri on one side, and by a motorcycle on the other. He was told how our house was burnt in 1996 for refusing to listen them, adding, the same would happen this time. He was held from neck, and was asked to lie down. He was badly beat him up, kicking him with shoes, even as continuously using abusive language.”
Shantilal Parmar
Pointing out that all this happened in full public view, Parmar said, “Despite the fact that we approached the Padra police station immediately, the inspector on duty refused to file an FIR, asking us to seek a compromise with the upper caste persons. This forced us to approach the district collector’s office in Vadodara on the next day. The district collector had no time to meet us. Finally, we went and met the district superintendent of police’s (SP’s) office, where our complaint was taken about refusal to file a first information report (FIR) against the culprits.”
Parmar, who is a Dalit farmer and is known for his social activities in the community, said, “The behaviour of the cops has not changed over the last one year. Last year also, the complaint against the untouchability practice was not taken for three days. Following pressure from several NGOs and higher ups, those who were responsible were taken into custody, but only to be set free on bail.” He added, “The pattern is the same this year. Only after the district SP’s office told the Padra police, the cops agreed to file an FIR against the culprits who hit my son was taken.”
The FIR, dated was taken three after the incident, following a complaint from the victim, which said that several persons – Thakorbhai Kanjibhai, Shankarbhai Keshavbhai, Manubhai Govindbhai, and Narendrabhai Dahyabhai – were present when Shashikant was beaten up, adding, those who are responsible for the incident are known for raking up anti-Dalit feelings in the village.  “Earlier also anti-atrocities law was applied on these persons, but things have not changed. Stricter action should be taken against those who are responsible”, it added.
The FIR sought action against the culprits under various sections of the criminal procedure law, as also the anti-atrocities law, Parmar said, adding, “Following the FIR, those responsible themselves reached  the police station. Though they are theoretically in police custody, they can be seen freely moving around in the police station compound. We have in our possession a video showing how this is happening. Clearly, the police are in hand-in-gloves with upper caste persons.”
Significantly, Padra falls under the Vadodara parliamentary constituency, from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi fought his way to the Lok Sabha this year's polls. The Dalits of Padra taluka have always felt being neglected. A recent report said how a statue of Ambedkar stands in a Dalit locality of Padra in Vadodara — robbed of its pride of place in the town square. The report added, about 17 years ago, the local body "allowed" its erection at a prominent spot, but dominant caste groups of the taluka scuttled the move by installing a Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in its place.

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