The victims claimed that the attackers wanted to “avenge” the arrest of 12 people in connection with the Una incident.Around eight Dalits were severely injured when a mob allegedly attacked them and 12 of their community members near Una on Monday, August 15. The incident took place around 5 pm when the group was returning home after attending a protest rally in the Gir Somnath district of Gujarat, PTI reports.
According to NDTV, the victims claimed that the attackers were residents of Samter village and wanted to “avenge” the arrest of 12 people in connection with the Una incident where members of a Dalit family were publicly beaten for skinning a dead cow.
Police lobbed teargas shells to disperse the crowd and resorted to mild lathi-charge, even as the victims alleged that the force did “nothing to help” them.
The 20 victims, who are from Bhavnagar district, had gone to Una on their motorcycles along with others. They were returning home after hoisting of a tricolour by Radhika Vemula, mother of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula who had committed suicide in Hyderabad, and Balu Sarvaiya, father of one of the victims of Una Dalit flogging incident, in the presence of Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Kanhaiya Kumar.
Mavjibhai Sarvaiya, who survived the attack said, “Out of the 30-odd persons arrested till date in the Una Dalit thrashing case, 12 persons belong to Samter, which is 11 km from Una. Around 200 Dalits, including me, had come to Una on our bikes to attend the rally. When we were returning, Samter residents blocked the road and thrashed us mercilessly.”
“Though the police force was there, they were outnumbered by attackers, who are holding us responsible for the arrests of 12 of their men. At least 20 persons were injured and eight of them received grievous injuries. The injured have been admitted to hospitals in Bhavnagar and Rajula. One of our bikes was also set ablaze,” Sarvaiya said.
He alleged that police did not help them during the time of the attack.
“It was a pre-planned attack, as all the alternate roads were also blocked by them. We were attacked in the presence of police. When the situation went out of control, the police fired some tear gas shells on the mob,” alleged Sarvaiya.
The meeting at Una, where the group was returning from, was the culmination of a 10-day, 350-kilometre march that has galvanised the Dalit community in the state.
Many Dalits demanded their rights and swore off occupations such as skinning of cows that they’re forced to do. They have also demanded five acres of land for every member of the community.
(With PTI inputs)