Reports of violence against kin of Una victims as Dalits issue ultimatum to Gujarat government

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In a shocking incident on Monday, six relatives of Una victims were allegedly thrashed as they returned from a rally in Una of Gujarat’s Veraval district.

Around eight Dalits were severely injured when a mob allegedly attacked them and 12 of their community members at Samter village near Una, while they were returning home after attending a protest rally in Una town of Gir Somnath district this evening. The incident took place around 5 PM. Police lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the crowd and resorted to mild lathi-charge, even as the victims alleged that the force did “nothing to help” them.

The victims also claimed that the attackers were residents of Samter village, who wanted to “avenge” the arrest of 12 persons in connection with last month’s Una Dalit flogging case.

The 20 victims, who are from Bhavnagar district, had gone to Una on their motorcycles along with others. They were returning home after hoisting of a tricolour by Radhika Vemula, mother of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula who had committed suicide in Hyderabad, and Balu Sarvaiya, father of one of the victims of Una Dalit flogging incident, in the presence of JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar.

This came after Dalits in Gujarat staged a huge show of strength in Una, where they vowed to intensify their agitation if their demands for granting five acres of land for each Una victim is not met by Gujarat government within one month.

According to PTI report, thousands of Dalits gathered in Una on the occasion of the country’s 70th Independence Day where Prime Minister Narendra Modi also came under fire, their leaders sought freedom from atrocities and discrimination, amid chants of “Jai Bhim”.

The tricolor was jointly unfurled by Radhika Vemula, mother of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula who had committed suicide in Hyderabad and Balu Sarvaiya, father of one of the victims of Una dalit flogging incident, in the presence of JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar. The week-long rally which started from Ahmedabad by Una Dalit Atachiyar Ladat Samiti (UDALS), culminated in Una, the place where some Dalits where brutally beaten by cow vigilantes for skinning a dead cow last month sparking outrage.

“You take cow’s tail, give us land,” Jignesh Mavani, a lawyer-turned politician who established the UDALS and led the march, told the huge gathering. “We have presented our demand before the state government. If you do not accept our demand of giving five acres land to each Dalit family in next one month, we will launch a rail roko agitation,” Mavani said.

Una victims
Una : Rohit Vemula’s mother and brother with Dalit community members during a solidarity rally in Una on Monday. PTI Photo

He also made those who were present there to take a pledge not to be in the business of skinning of cows. Targeting Modi, Mevani said, “The sheer scale of protests had forced him to speak out on the issue. Modi did not speak a word when three youths were killed in police firing in Thangadh town in 2012, another incident of Dalit atrocity.”

Kanhaiya said the hype of Gujarat Model of development has been punctured by Dalits of the state.

“We want freedom from castesim. We will not tolerate any more atrocities on Dalits anywhere in the country. Everybody has to come together to fight against such atrocities,” he said. Radhika Vemula in her address said, “I have not got justice for my son. He had to commit suicide just because he was Dalit.

“But it is good to see that Dalit movement in Gujarat has forced the chief minister Anandiben Patel to resign. I have come here so that no other Dalit children face what my son had to suffer.” Muslim community members came in large numbers to support the Dalit community in their campaign.

Slogans like “Dalits-Muslims bhai bhai” were heard at the gathering. As many as seven members of Dalit community from Mota Samadhiyala village in Una taluk in Gir Somnath district were on July 11 brutally assaulted by some self-styled cow vigilantes for skinning a dead cow. Among others who attended the flag hoisting event at Una were documentary film maker Anand Patwardhan.

The other demands of Dalits included banishment of each of the accused arrested in the Una atrocity incident under PASA and arrest of others who were seen in the videos participating in the beating of Dalits in the Una incident. They also demanded alternative employment options from government to Dalits who have pledged to not dispose of carcasses of dead animals, which they said should be first discussed in the coming session of the state assembly.

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