Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday visited the Dalit family whose four members were beaten up by “so called gaurakshaks” on alleged charges of cow slaughter, in Una of Gujarat's Rajkot district on Thursday.
Accompanied by state Congress leaders, Gandhi spent about 40 minutes talking to the victim’s family. The family complained that discrimination against the Dalits was common in Gujarat.
The Congress leader, who has been criticised for having a nap in the Parliament when Home Minister Rajnath Singh was speaking on the issue, also saw the video that had gone viral. The video led to widespread protests across the state.
He gave a personal touch to the visit by drinking tea in a steel plate offered by the victims’ family. Gandhi also held victim Balubhai Sarvaiya’s hands and checked the injury marks on his back.
Sixteen accused have been arrested so far. The case is being investigated by the CID wing of the Crime Branch. As part of the protests, more than 11 Dalits have attempted suicides. They are undergoing treatment in various hospitals.
Gandhi announced financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to the family. He also called on Dalit youths who have been undergoing treatment at the Rajkot Civil Hospital.
Later in Rajkot, he told media persons that the victim and his wife told him that Dalits in Gujarat were oppressed on a daily basis.
Violent protests continued in different parts of the state for the third consecutive day on July 21.
Earlier in the day, before Gandhi landed in Gujarat, NCP leader Praful Patel met the victim’s family in their village.
He said he had not come to play politics over the atrocity but had come to show emotional and moral support to the family. “It is not about taking benefit during elections,” he said.
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal will call on the family on July 22.
At a press conference in Ahmedabad, AAP national spokesman Ashutosh alleged that the Gujarat Government was anti-Dalit. He said that various strata were targeted. “Earlier Patidars were targeted and now the Dalits,” he alleged.
The AAP played a video message of Kejriwal who requested Dalit youth not to commit suicide. He asked the youth to fight it out like Ambedkar did. “We will win,” he said in the message.
Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel had visited the family along with two cabinet colleagues on July 20.