Gujarat govt refuses to withdraw cases against Dalits who protested Una incident

The state government, however, revealed that legal proceedings against members of the Patel community who were on the opposing side had been quashed

Photo courtesy: PTI
Photo courtesy: PTI
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NH Web Desk

The Gujarat government has refused to withdraw cases against Dalits who were part of the Una protests, even as the state leadership has quashed legal proceedings against members of the Patel community who were on the opposing side.

“In response to my question in the assembly, the government of Gujarat admits that they won't withdraw any of the cases field against Dalit activists field for participating in Una agitation. It is worth mentioning such cases have been withdrawn filed against Patels,” Independent MLA from Vadgam Jignesh Mevani, who later became the face of the Una uprising, said on Twitter.

The development comes a day after it was revealed through a Right to Information (RTI) application that crimes against Dalits were at a 17-year high in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled state.

According to a report in The Times of India on Wednesday, Gujarat witnessed 1,515 cases registered under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in 2017, an increase of 150 cases on last year’s figures. The crimes included 25 murders, 71 severe assaults and 103 incidents of Dalit women being raped, as per the break-up of data. The RTI application was filed Mehsana-based Dalit activist Kaushik Parmar.

The RTI application further noted that the Ahmedabad region saw the highest prevalence of atrocities against Dalits, debunking a popular myth that violence on caste lines was mainly prevalent in rural areas.

Over the years, the BJP leadership in Gujarat has been under attack for not carrying through the legal proceedings when they involve members of marginalised communities. A report by data journalism website IndiaSpend found that only 3.4% of crimes against Dalits ended in convictions in 2014, compared to the national average of over 28%. Between 2004 and 2014, only 5% of cases involving atrocities on SC/STs ended in convictions in Gujarat, while the national average stood around 25%.

Earlier this week, Gujarat government also went back on its promise of providing jobs to four victims of the Una incident, when prompted on the matter by Mevani in the Gujarat assembly. The information was made public by state’s social justice minister Ishwarbhai Parmar, who said that no government records were present to back claims that then chief minister Anandiben Patel had promised jobs to the four victims when she visited them in hospital in July 2016.

Four Dalits youth in Gujarat’s Samadhiyala village were beaten up and paraded naked by cow vigilantes for skinning dead cows in July 2016. The video of the incident was uploaded on social media and sparked a nationwide uprising. In Gujarat, Mevani, over the period of new few months, led nearly 20,000 Dalits who protested rising atrocities against the community under the BJP leadership.

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