Recent cases of violence against Dalits

Print edition : June 22, 2018

Dalits being brutally thrashed by a bunch of self-professed gau rakshaks (cow protectors) after two of them were accused of skinning a dead cow in Una town of Gir Somnath district on July 11.

IN July 2016, in Una town of Junagadh district, two young Dalits who were skinning the carcasses of cows that they had been asked to collect were accused of killing the cows and beaten brutally. They were further humiliated by being tied to rickshaws and flogged. The public assault and the fact that self-declared gau rakshaks were on the rampage at the time ensured that the Una case received national attention, but cases such as the ones listed below remain largely unknown:

Gir Somnath district, 2012

Relatives of a young girl belonging to an Other Backward Classes community suspected that she had eloped with a Dalit youth in Akoladi village. On the morning of September 13, 2012, a mob armed with weapons and kerosene descended on the house of the youth, who was sleeping inside. When the father of the youth protested that he was not involved in the incident, some members of the mob attacked him while others climbed on to the rooftop, removed the tiles and poured kerosene on the youth. He was burnt alive along with his house. His family members camped at the Collector’s office until they were resettled in another village. They were given a parcel of land since they could no longer return to their village.

Ahmedabad district, 2014

The newly elected Dalit sarpanch of Loliya, who refused to toe the line of the dominant non-Dalit Bharwal caste in the village, was tormented because he faced caste-related harassment on a daily basis to the extent that his harassers were finally externed from the village. Enraged by this, they murdered him one morning in 2014 when he was in the fields. His sister fought for justice but on February 27, 2015, she, too, was killed. Her hacked body was found close to her village hours after she left the Gujarat High Court following a hearing on her brother’s case. The same people who were booked for her brother’s murder have been booked in her case, too.

Bhavnagar district

A Dalit girl, 15, of Sobhavad village was dragged to her school library and raped. Soon, the friend of the attacker, too, raped her, threatening to expose her ordeal with the first accused. Four more joined and raped the girl, forcing her to go to various places, and the act was filmed. Later the accused blackmailed the victim’s sister, also a minor, with the video of her sister and raped her repeatedly. On May 26, 2015, a cousin visiting the girls on a religious occasion was also raped by the accused by threatening to expose the video of her two cousins. She, however, complained and brought to light the earlier crimes. It appeared that a gang, which had named itself “Gulab Gang”, regularly raped women, filmed the act and blackmailed them.

Amreli district, 2015

On December 25, 2015, Laljibhai, who lived at Vadli village with his family of seven, was about to shut his door for the night when a non-Dalit man appeared and abused him verbally and physically and abducted his daughter. There were only 23 Dalit families in this largely Rajput village. The families camped outside the Collector’s office out of fear. The Gujarat High Court has transferred the case to another sessions court because the victims feared that undue influence would be brought on the case in the earlier sessions court.

Rajkot district, 2016

Satish Rathod of Maua village earned his living by driving a rickshaw. A few non-Dalits approached him to borrow money, which he refused. On May 12, 2016, Rathod sold his old rickshaw with plans to buy a new one. He was travelling with the money to his father-in-law’s village when some men beat him to death.

Ahmedabad district, 2016

Meenaben Solanki of Girand village was rushed to hospital on August 18, 2016, after she consumed pesticide. She died in hospital. Investigations revealed that a few days before her death, while she was collecting fodder for her buffalo, a Rajput man raped her and threatened to kill her brother if she did not remain silent about the incident. When this happened a second time, the humiliation was too much for her to bear and she decided to end her life.

Banaskantha district, 2016

On September 22, 2016, members of a Dalit family were attacked in Mota Karja village for refusing to remove the carcass of a dead animal. The family had taken the stand in protest against what had happened to Dalit youths in Una. The attackers assaulted and kicked a pregnant woman in the belly. The woman, who had been brought up and educated in Ahmedabad, had married into the family.

Bhavnagar district, 2016

Pravinbhai Rathod of Tadaja village was killed on October 17, 2016, because he refused to lend money to a non-Dalit man.

Patan district, 2016

On Diwali day, November 4, 2016, two Patel men beat Dalit children in Maniyari village for lighting crackers, saying celebration of Diwali by Dalits offended them. The Dalit community was divided on whether or not to file a complaint. The elders persuaded everyone not to, but the Patels were incensed that they had even considered a complaint. On November 4, a mob of about 150 non-Dalits attacked the Dalit mohalla. There were no fatalities, but the community was terrorised and 33 families chose to live outside the Collector’s office. They were given housing plots near Patan town 15 months after the incident, and that too because the government wanted to clear all such cases in the wake of Bhanubhai Vankar’s self-immolation in February 2018.

Rajkot district, 2016

A 25-year-old Dalit man had gone to a soda shop at Hodthali village on November 15, 2016, when a non-Dalit man insulted him and asked him to leave the place. When he refused, he was hit on the head with a large rock. Bleeding from the injury, the man left the place, but his father came to the shop to argue with his son’s attacker. This enraged the non-Dalit who drove his car at the father and sped away. The Dalit man succumbed to his injuries.

Patan district, 2017

A non-Dalit man’s buffalo died in Par village and he asked the Dalits in the village to remove it. But they refused to do so, as this happened in the wake of the Una incident: they told him to dispose of the carcass himself. This became a flashpoint, and on February 27, 2017, Kshatriyas in the village attacked the Dalits and insisted that they carry out their traditional roles or face social boycott. As many as 73 Dalits left the village and sought safety at the Collector’s office. After 14 months, the government gave them housing plots in Patan and assistance to build homes.

Banaskantha district, 2017

On April 16, 2017, a Dalit passing by a tubewell project in Meta village took photographs of the site for some reason. This enraged the contractors who beat the man so mercilessly that he died.

Botad district, 2017

On April 18, 2017, Dalits who were part of the celebrations at the opening of a new temple in Malanpur village were segregated at meal time and given separate plates. They had contributed financially to the cause and so were angry. The situation quickly became violent and simmered for two days. About 100 Dalit families fled the village and returned only after 12 days when six culprits were arrested.

Patan district, 2017

A Dalit woman went every day to non-Dalit homes in Vadavalli village to collect vadu, or leftover food. On May 14, 2017, five Thakur men grabbed her at night with intent to rape but were forced to let her go following her loud protests.

Gandhinagar district, 2017

On September 25, 2017, just as celebrations of 85 years of the Poona Pact were on, two Dalit youths were assaulted by Kshatriyas in Limbodra village, 15 kilometres from the State capital. The reason: they had dared to sport a moustache.

Anand district, 2017

On October 1, 2017, Dalits at Bhadraniya village had gone to watch the garba dance at a temple. At 4 a.m., a Patel man abused them for sitting near the temple. He was joined by more Patels, who assaulted the Dalit group. One of the Dalits was singled out and his head was repeatedly hit on a wall. He died in hospital.

Patan district, 2018

On February 16, 2018, Bhanubhai Vankar immolated himself in protest against unnecessary delays by the Revenue Department. A former revenue official, he was helping fellow Dalits get ownership of their land in Dudhka village. All formalities and monetary transfers had been completed but the administration continued to harass the Dalit owners. After his death the government cleared all the pending files.

Rajkot district, 2018

Nanjibhai, a young Dalit man from Manekwada village, encouraged his wife to fight the panchayat election and she won. Nanjibhai was under constant threat ever since he filed an application under the Right to Information Act for information on certain corrupt practices in the panchayat. He had received threats to his life and had even written to the police expressing his apprehensions. On March 9, while he was returning home on his motorcycle, a vehicle knocked him down and his assailants hacked him to death.

Bhavnagar district, 2018

A 21-year-old Dalit man was hacked to death at Timbi village on March 29. His crime was that he used to ride a horse and continued to do so even though non-Dalits had told him not to.

Lyla Bavadam

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