Sunday, August 21, 2016

Thangarh police firing: Gujarat Dalit families want govt to file FIR against cops responsible for death of 3 youths

On stage: Thangarh family members with Manjula Pradeep
By Our Representative
In first of a series of shows of strength following the success of the August 15 Una rally, called to protest against flogging of four Dalit youths on July 11, the Gujarat Scheduled Caste Anti-Atrocities Struggle Committee on Sunday held a well-attended rally in Gadhinagar in order to highlight the plight of the three Dalit families who had lost their sons in police firing in Thangarh four years ago.
Held against the backdrop of the families sitting on dharna in Gandhinagar for about a fortnight demanding to reopen the case, closed recently by the Gujarat crime branch, a strong demand was put forward to file a first information report (FIR) against the cops who had fired on the three youths on September 22-13, 2012.
Finding that the rally might embarrass the Gujarat government ahead of a two-day session of the Gujarat state assembly, starting on Monday, senior Dalit rights activists taking up the cause of the Dalit families were called for a compromise late on Friday evening.
Soon after the meeting with Gujarat ministers, the state government declared setting up of a special investigation team (SIT) and a special court to probe the incident, which has become a symbol of Dalit atrocities in Gujarat for the last four years. It also declared appointment of a special special public prosecutor to ensure early completion of the probe.
The SIT will include Rajkot police commissioner Anupam Singh Gehlot, Surat deputy commissioner of police (zone-2) Parikshita Rathiod, and Porbandar district police chief Tarun Kumar Duggal. The rally saw a section declaring it as a victory for their struggle. However, others seemed reluctant to reach to the conclusion.
Addressing the gathering, members of the Dalit families said, they are “not satisfied” with the offer of SIT, pointing out, “Our main demand remains unanswered: To take prompt action against the cops responsible for the firing incident, in which three Dalit youths died.” They said, they wanted a
CBI inquiry, and not SIT, adding, they were "taken for a ride."
Addressed by Dalit rights NGO Navsarjan Trust founder Martin Macwan and executive director Manjula Pradeep, among others, a list of 16 demands were put forward at the gathering, which included holding mass hearing in each village on atrocities against Dalits and other marginalized groups, and disbanding the village level social justice committees, whose main job is not to look into caste discrimination but to look after cleanliness.
Also, there was a demand to look into the problems of the Dalits of tens of villages who have been forced to migrate and live in nearby towns because of attacks from dominant castes. Nothing has been done to rehabilitate them, the speakers at the rally pointed out. Activists wanted the two-day Gujarat state assembly to discuss these issues theadbare.
Activists wanted the state government should reveal the findings of senior IAS bureaucrat Sanjay Prasad, who looked into the Thangarh firing. The inquiry report was submitted to the then Narendra Modi government on May 1, 2013, but has not been made public, allegedly because it contains names of some senior police officials, who had ordered to fire on the Dalits.

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