Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dalit-upper caste brawl in Gujarat town off Ahmedabad: Police refuse protection to victims, says letter to CM

By Our Representative
In a gruesome incident in a town situated situated just about 60 kilometres from  one of India's topmost business hubs, Ahmedabad, Dalits were badly beaten up, with authorities remaining "indifferent". In a letter to Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, one of the members of the family which claimed to have become "victim" of the brawl caused by objections to occupying a public space for private function has complained that, despite strong plea, the Dalits were "refused" police protection.
In her complaint, Mitaben Karshanbhai Chauhan, who lives in the Parkota area of the town, has said that the incident took place on July 19 at around 1 pm, when the public space next to her house was occupied by vehicles which had come for a feast organized by members of the upper caste. 
"The way to our house was totally blocked. There was no space for us to go out", Chauhan said, adding, "When our family members requested them to remove the vehicles, first the upper castemen started abusing us, and when we objected to using such language, they badly beat three our family members, including my mother, Champaben."
Suggesting that those who beat them up had strong political connections, as one of them was a local councillor of Viramgam municipality, Chauhan said, "They were around 200 to 250 persons, while we just just a handful. We phoned up the police from the spot, when they were beating us up, but nobody came to our rescue." 
Saying that this is not an isolated incident, she added, "The upper caste persons have been misbehaving with us for long. This time, they took advantage of our objection to putting up vehicles on way to our Dalit houses to teach us a lesson."
Following the incident, Chauhan said, "we went to the police station of Viramgam town and registered our complaint under Indian Penal Code sections 354(A)1, 323, 504 and 114, as also the anti-atrocities Act's section 3(1)10, 11, and 15 against five accused." 
Pointing out that just eight days ahead of the incident the family had demanded police protection, because the upper caste persons were harassing them, Chauhan said, "In case the police had acted upon our request, which made on July 11, and provided us police protection, nothing would have happened."
"Even after the incident", said Chauhan, "we made another plea on the next day of the incident, July 20, to provide us with police protection. But unfortunately, the police have refused to act."
Pointing out that the 14 members of the Dalits community are living in a "state of fear" in their own houses, Chauhan has asked the chief minister to immediately look into the matter and direct the authorities to act upon their complaint and ensure that they live without any fear as normal human beings. 
"We want the anti-untouchability law to be instituted against those who have been harassing us", she said, adding, "It is clear case of human rights violation, and should be treated as such." 
Copies of the complaint to the Gujarat chief minister have also been forwarded to state chief secretary GR Aloria, the state home secretary, and the Gujarat police chief. The letter was forwarded to the media by Dalit rights organization in Ahmedabad, Navsarjan Trust. 

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