Dalits in thousands came out on the streets of Gujarat on Wednesday even as Chief Minister Anandiben Patel visited Mota Samadhiyala village of Una in Saurashtra region where four Dalit youths were brutally beaten up on July 11 on the alleged charges of cow slaughter.
A bandh call was been given by various dalit organisations. Protests were reported from across the state, especially Ahmedabad, the Saurashtra region and North Gujarat. In Saurashtra, caste discrimination against the dalits is much higher compared to other parts of the state.
Life in eastern part of Ahmedabad was thrown out of gear with mega rallies in different areas. City bus routes were majorly diverted. Several schools remained shut in the eastern part of the city and so did shops and business establishments, while Ahmedabad’s western part remained unaffected.
The chief minister along with two of her senior colleagues in the government and chief secretary G.R. Aloria spent quite some time listening to the victims and their families. She also visited the victims who are undergoing treatment at the Rajkot Civil Hospital.
The victims broke down on seeing the chief minister at their doorstep. The youths have maintained that they had only skinned dead cows. After listening to the victims carefully, the CM later told news channels that the state government would provide financial help to the families for constructing houses. She also informed that dalit children studying in Class V and above would be enrolled for free in model schools managed by the government.
The villagers complained to the chief minister that they were getting threat calls on their mobiles. Patel took note of the numbers from which they got threat calls and asked the district collector and the SP to investigate the matter.
Despite the chief minister's appeals for peace since Tuesday, there seems to have been no effect.
The CID Crime has been asked to investigate the matter and so far 16 persons have been arrested. Four policemen, including a police inspector, have been suspended.
The government issued a press release listing out the measures it had taken after the incident. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal are expected to visit Gujarat by the weekend.