New Delhi: A Class 12 Dalit student was allegedly tied to a tree and beaten by two men in Gujarat’s Patan district on March 18 afternoon. According to an FIR registered on Wednesday, the 17-year-old boy from Mehsana was attacked in Gorad village while he was on his way to give the English board exam.
Mitkumar Nareshbhai Chavda has said in the FIR, according to Indian Express, “I had reached the examination centre, Sarvajanik Vidya Mandir High School in Dhinoj village from my home in Mehsana by state transport bus around 1 pm. While waiting outside the exam centre, Ramesh Patel whom I know by face and is a state transport bus conductor came to me. He asked me to come with him as he had some work. He took me to another person who was waiting with a motorcycle. They both rode me to a nearby farm in Gorad village.”
“The men tired him to a need tree and started hitting me with a stick. When he asked them the reason, they abused him and said that he should not study and take his exams but do labour work,” Mitkumar’s mother Taruna told the newspaper. According to her, rumours that the attackers were angry that her son was in a relationship with an upper-caste girl are false.
Mitkumar did not give his board exam and went back home after the men beat him. The attack came to light on Wednesday, when his mother noticed the injuries on his body. He then told her everything, and she took him to the Mehsana district hospital. An FIR was registered under IPC sections 323, 341, 504, 506 (2) and 114.
No arrests have been made in the case so far.
MLA Jignesh Mevani, who visited the victim in hospital, called the attack Gujarat’s “celebration of Holi with the blood of Dalit youth”.
होली के दिन रक्त के छींटे : गुजरात के पाटन जिले के मित चावडा नाम के दलित युवक को किडनैप करके पैड के साथ बांधकर इतना मारा की देखकर रुह कांप उठे। कसूर सिर्फ इतना कि शायद उसने प्यार किया था। @dgpgujarat, @CMOGuj तुरंत करवाई कीजिए वरना पाटन बंध का कॉल देना पड़ेगा! चौकिदार सो गया है ? pic.twitter.com/UAV5vBqspj
— Jignesh Mevani (@jigneshmevani80) March 21, 2019
“We found out that he was beaten up by these criminals because it was suspected that the teen was friends with a girl studying in class 11, and she was related to the two miscreants. Angered by the possibility of a Dalit boy going around with a woman of another caste, the relatives beat him up. He was not only stopped from taking his English exam, but was threatened to not give the upcoming exam March 22. They also threatened to kill him if he writes the exam,” Mevani said.
The MLA also said that protests will be launched if the accused are not arrested soon.
A year ago too, Patan district was in the news for caste violence and discrimination. Bhanubhai Vankar, a 62-year-old Dalit activist, immolated himself in front of the office of the collector of Patan district on February 15, 2018. Vankar, a retired panchayat-level revenue officer, was helping a Dalit woman, Hemaben, and her family get possession of their land in Dudhka village. When the authorities paid no heed to their demand, Hemaben and her family threatened to self-immolate. Vanker immolated himself when the family was detained.
Large-scale protests had followed Vanker’s death.