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After forced to migrate following rape, threat to life, 23 Gujarat Dalits seek internal displacement status

Dalits sitting in front of Amreli district collector's office
By Our Representative
Twenty three Dalits, belonging to the Rohit community, are sitting in front of the Amreli district collector’s office since early January 2016, seeking a new status for themselves: They want to be declared as forced migrants, as they faced internal displacement following the rape of an 18-year-old Dalit girl and threat from dominant castes to take back the case. The incident took place in Vadali village, situated in Rajula taluka of Amreli district of Gujarat’s Saurashtra region.
In a letter sent to the Amreli district collector, senior Gujarat Dalit rights activist Kantilal Parmar of Navsarjan Trust has complained that the approach of the government authorities, including the police, regarding the forced migration suffered by Dalits has been highly indifferent, suggesting none of those who are in power seem to appreciate the threats these Dalits face at their original place of living, in Vadali following the rape incident.
Pointing out that things have been tense for the 100-odd Dalit families living in the higher caste Darbar Rajput-dominated village ever since the murder of a Dalit youth on January 14, 2011, Parmar said, the situation turned particularly pathetic for Laljibhai Bhimabhai Babariya’s family after his daughter was kidnapped late at night on December 25, 2015 and raped.
Quoting from the FIR lodged soon after the incident, the letter said, members of a dominant caste came in the Magic four wheeler to the house of Babariya and asked to produce his daughter. One of them “came into my house and grabbed my daughter’s hand and kidnapped her. In the early morning, the accused dropped my daughter at my house”, the letter quotes the victim's father as saying.
An FIR was filed, and the police produced the victim and took her statement in front of a first class magistrate, the letter said, adding, “Medical examination was done in the Civil Hospital, Amreli. Both the accused were arrested and put in jail. One of them was released on bail.”
Things did not stop here. One of the relatives on the accused came to Babariya’s house on December 31, 2015, and threatened him to either leave the village or face destruction of the house. “We, 23 people living in our houses, were forced to leave following the threat”, said Babariya.
While the social justice department officials, apart from the vigilance officer, the district collector, the district superintendent of police, and the deputy superintendent of police visited the place, and police protection was allocated to both the places, in Vadali village, and the front of the district collector’s office, where the 23 persons are sitting, the letter said, they have not been declared as forced migrants.
“After the migration they have been sitting in front of the district collector’s office in Amreli. There has been a protest rally. Angry Dalits blocked a road in leading to Amreli. There was also a public gathering”, the letter said, but regretted, however, the main demand has not been met.
"What they instead got was compensation under the Prevention of Atrocities Act to the tune of Rs 90,000 for rape and Rs 12,000 as contingency, which has arisen due to migration", Parmar said. Calling it a clear case of human rights violation, requiring a total rehabilitation of all the 23 persons by declaring them internally displaced persons (IDPs), the letter wants the state government to immediately intervene.

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