Families of Thangadh killings victims demand justice

India Caste Protests Dalits in Gujarat has been protesting since four men belonging to their community were beaten while trying to skin a dead cow in July in Una | AP

Even as the Gujarat Government has announced setting up of a fast track court to handle the case of public flogging of four Dalit youths of Mota Samadhiyala in Una, family members of three Dalit youths killed in Thangadh four years ago in police firing have renewed their demand for a CBI inquiry and reopening two cases in which 'C' summary has been filed.

A 'C' summary report means that the case is false, but filed because of misunderstanding and without malicious intent.

Mehul Rathod, 16, Pankaj Sumra, 17, and Prakash Parmar, 26, had died in police firing in 2012. Since then their families have been longing for justice.

Family members, who have sat on an indefinite dharna in Gandhinagar since August 1, said in Ahmedabad on Friday that their children were not criminals. They alleged that the police fired at them following what they described as a minor altercation with people of Bharwad community.

The family members and the Gujarat Anusuchit Jaati Atyachar Sangharsh Samiti have planned a massive public meeting in Gandhinagar on August 21 to demand justice for Thangadh victims. Manjula Pradeep, director of Navsarjan Trust, one of the oldest voluntary organisations working in the grassroots for the scheduled caste people, said that they were expecting 10,000 people to attend the meeting but the turnout could be even more.

Their charter of demands also include doing away with untouchability in Gujarat, installing a tall statue of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, speedy clearance of pending cases – nearly 5,000 – under the Atrocities Act and giving five acres land to families involved in skinning of dead animals.

Mehul’s father Valjibhai said that the family members were not happy with the investigation by the CID (Crime). He also demanded that the state government give them a copy of the report of the probe committee headed by IAS officer Sanjay Prasad.

Valjibhai said that it was ironical that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said that “shoot me instead of targeting the Dalits”, was only 55 kilometers away at a rally when the incident occurred. Modi was then the chief minister of Gujarat.

The victims' kin have also demanded that family of each victim be given Rs 10 lakh. The next course of action would be declared at August 21 meeting. Valjibhai said that the police should also lodge an FIR in the case of Shanubhai Vamia, who was injured in police firing when he was trying to save one of the victims.

Their demands also include justice for the victims of Una incident. They wanted that the police should file FIRs against policemen allegedly involved in Una incident. “Just suspending them is not enough.”

The families of the victims, however, seemed unhappy with Dalit activist Jignesh Mewani, who emerged as a leader following Una incident. Valjibhai said that though Mewani knew that they had been sitting on indefinite dharna he had not come to meet them.

One of the Dalit leaders P. J. Parmar said that though everybody was welcomed for the meeting, Mewani would not be allowed on the stage.

Interestingly, at a rally in Una on August 15, one of the founders of Navsarjan Trust Martin Mackwan was not given an opportunity to speak though he was present. The Trust has been working for Dalit rights for over two decades.

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Topics : #Gujarat

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