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Angry Gujarat Dalits to protest in Amreli on August 8 against "false" FIR charging social workers with murder

Amreli district court advocates handing over protest letter
By Our Representative
Even as the imbroglio around the July 11 Una incident, in which four Dalit youths were thrashed after tying them to an SUV, refuses to die down, a new wave of Dalit anger has begun to sweep in Saurashtra. This is around what is being claimed to be a false FIR against 16 Dalits youths charging them with the murder of a police constable on July 19.
Naming as many as 16 persons under Section 302 of the CrPC, including a school teacher, a social justice lawyer and a well-known social activist, the FIR was filed late on July 19, the day angry protests rocked Amreli town against the Una incident – that too for an incident which, say local sources, was not a murder but an accident.
While none of those whose names figure in the FIR were contactable, as their phones were switched off, a social worker attached with the NGO, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Ahmedabad, and working in Amreli, told Counterview that the district's prominent Dalits have “met and decided to hold a major show of strength in front of the district office on August 8 to protest against the FIR.”
A leaflet calling upon Dalits to remain present in Amreli “in thousands” on August 8 said, “The police constable, Pankajbhai Amrelia, died far away from the spot where the Dalits were protesting. His death happened because he fell down while getting down from a police vehicle, and his head was reportedly hit by a sharp matter.”
Calling the Amreli district police's decision to book the 16 prominent Dalit activists under Section 302 a “well-planned conspiracy” to take a revenge against them because most of them were fighting for Dalit rights in the district, the leaflet says, “The FIR has been lodged against even those who were not there in the rally, with some of them being out of the state.”
Leaflet calling for August 8 rally in Amreli
Giving details of those named in the FIR, CSJ activist Arvindbhai Khuman told Counterview that the most prominent among them is Karsanbhai Rathod, an advocate based in a neighbouring town, Rajula. “Rathod had come to Amreli for getting his driving license renewed, he was nowhere near the spot of the incident. Already, there a wave of anger against naming Rathod.”
“A social justice lawyer who takes up cases of caste discrimination, there is already a wave of anger among the lawyers of the district against naming Rathod”, Khuman says. “On July 25, the Rajula Bar Association wrote a letter to minister of state for home Rajnibhai Patel protesting against wrongly naming Rathod. And on August 1, advocates across the district went on strike. Representation was made to government officials in all the eight talukas and district headquarters in Amreli.”
Then, Khuman said, there is the name of school teacher, Rajnibhai Makwana, who had gone to attend a social function and was with BJP Rajya Sabha MP Shambhunath Tundiya, known among Dalits as a “dharmaguru” because of his religious seat in Zanzarka in Saurashtra. “Shambhunath Maharaj has confirmed this and given it writing”, he added.
“A third person”, said Khuman, “is a prominent social worker from Rajula, Kantibhai Vala. Vala has been mobilising Dalits in Amreli district for the last several years. He is the one who has been the driving force behind the protest by 23 persons of a family, who are sitting in front of the Amreli district collector's office. They were forced to migrate from their village, Vadli, where they faced intolerable oppression of the upper castes.”
“Others named in the FIR include Navchetanbhai Parmar, a lawyer, who took the permission for the Dalit rally. The police never liked him fighting the case of the effort of upper caste villagers seeking to burn an entire family alive. Apparently, he has been punished for that”, says Khuman, adding, “There is also a transporter, Gopal Manibhai Parmar, who was in Rajasthan on that day.”

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