Friday, December 7, 2012

Than simmers over dalit killings

Gujarat EDN
TOI 25SEP2012

Complete Shutdown After Six Community Members Arrested

Thangadh: Angry dalits enforced a total bandh of Thangadh town on Monday after six people from their community were arrested for clashing with the police and Bharwad community members on Saturday and Sunday. The clashes had resulted in the death of three dalit youths in police firing.
    The suspension of Thangadh police sub inspector K P Jadeja and the state government announcing a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the deceased did not help in calming simmering tensions.
    Dalits in the town have accused the police of firing at them without warning. They also claim the officers were biased during the arrests as no action has been against either the Bharwad community members or the policemen who fired at them.
    The six have been charged with attempt to murder and rioting. They were among the 17 people detained after the clash at the fair on Saturday in which three policemen were also injured. The clash and subsequent police firing had killed a 16-year-old dalit boy Pankaj Sumra, 16, on Saturday. Another two youths were killed in police firing on Sunday afternoon.
    “The community has been targeted. Local policemen have been holding a grudge against us for a while. Officials did not take our complaint against Bharwad community members in Saturday’s clash at the fair and instead arrested members of our community,”
said Babulal Solanki, a dalit leader in the town.
    State CID (crime), which has been handed over the probe, has started two separate inquiries – one in the Saturday’s clash and police firing at the fair and second in the Sunday afternoon’s police firing. “As far as Sunday’s police firing is concerned, we are recording the statements of witnesses,” a CID (crime) officer told TOI.
    Pankaj’s death sparked outrage among the community and tension was fueled further after two more youths Mehul Rathod, 17, and Prakash Parmar, 26, died in police firing on Sunday after dalits clashed with police.
    Streets in Thangadh were completely deserted, schools remained closed and all shops downed their shutters. Dalit leaders were seen making desperate attempts to placate their community, which was seething with anger. The leaders told youths not to take the law in their hands after a mob tried to block roads near a railway crossing.
    As many as 4,000 people joined the funeral procession of the three victims which was held amid heavy police bandobast on Monday. Their kin claimed the bodies only after hectic convincing from two state ministers Ramanlal Vora and Fakir Vaghela, who were rushed to Thangadh on Sunday.
    “Three companies of state reserve police force have been deployed in the town,’’ said Praveen Sinha, Inspector General of Police (Rajkot Range). A magisterial inquiry has been ordered in the incident. Than firing: Victims’ kin allege police bias Demand Action Against Guilty Cops
Thangadh: Parents of dalit youths killed in a police firing in Thangadh on Sundayhave accusedthe policeof having a bias against their community that led them to kill their sons.
    “My son had gone to have a good time at the public fair, but police opened fire in which my innocent son was killed. How could a 16-yearold attack the police? We want justice and the culprits must be booked. He was my only son. Who will give my son back,’’ asked Amarshi Sumara, father of deceased Pankaj Sumara, who was killed on Saturday night.
    “My son was not a terrorist, but a daily wage earner who had gone out in search of work. Even terrorist Ajmal Kasab was captured alive by the police. Why did they have to kill Mehul,” said a wailing Valji Rathod, whose 17-year-old son died in police firing on Sunday afternoon. Rathod wants guilty police officials to be booked for his son’s murder. The family members of the deceased youths are furious over no action being taken against the police personnel despite two ministers promising registration of cases against them. “We were told that cases would be registered within two hours,” Natvar Parmar, uncle of deceased Prakash Parmar (26), said. “The situation could have been averted if the police had gone back instead of shooting at us from a close distance. Their intention was clear,” said Parmar, who saw his nephew and another youth being hit by the bullets.