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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Thangadh returns

After almost two and half years, Gujarat police filed ‘C’ summary report in Thangadh tragedy that took lives of three Dalit youths, two of them were minor. The cold-blooded murders of Dalit youths by police shook entire Dalit community of Gujarat. First time in the bloody, black history of Dalit massacres three Dalit youths from three different communities, Charan, Chamar and Vankar, laid down their lives on the altar of age-old, nefarious caste-based discrimination, which is now being protected and perpetuated by covert and overt support of BJP rulers.

Dalits of Gujarat would never forget the headlines of next day’s news papers screaming and telling the horrible account of brutal, savage onslaught on Dalit youths who were fighting with dry, sticks of babool trees against police armed with rifles. Two ministers, say mercenaries of Modi government rushed to Thangadh to camouflage a shameless compromise with compensation and filing of FIRs against erring cops. But, Dalits were in no mood to surrender to saffron tactics. A call of ‘Chalo Than’ was given by Ahmedabad-based activists, who then visited Thangadh and persuaded villagers to host a public gathering on 2nd October.

The call was a great success in terms of numbers as more than one lakh Dalits turned at the venue to pay homage to Dalit martyrs, but outcome of the meeting was not heartening as the proceedings of meeting was disrupted by lackeys from both main political parties, congress and BJP. I remember a drunkard, Dalit, BJP councilor of Thangadh Nagarpalika climbed up the stage and tried to snatch mike from a Congress lackey. It was all round anarchy on the stage full of drama watched by a disciplined Dalit audience soaked in shock and gloom. It was not first time I was watching such nonsense in the name of movement. Two and half decades back, in Gandhinagar, too, the stage was collapsed when more than one hundred ‘Dalit leaders’ climbed up the stage maligning great Dalit resistance which culminated to more than five lakh people’s participation in the aftermath of anti-roaster agitation.

Once the excitement and euphoria of agitation subsided, the hard legal course of courts had hardly any takers. With the help of veteran Dalit social leader Valjibhai Patel we could file public interest litigation (PIL) in Gujarat High Court through senior advocate Mukul Sinha. I persuaded Amarshibhai Lakhabhai Sumara, father of Pankaj, who was first victim of the massacre to become petitioner. Mukulbhai did not charge a single rupee and prepared the petition even though he was very busy in his work. Shamsad Pathan and Aiyar, brave heart lawyers in Mukulbhai’s team also contributed in preparing the petition and consequently government was forced to file charge sheet in first FIR no. I/71/12. The present ‘C’ summary report is about another FIR, I/72/12 lodged by Valjibhai Rathod, father of another victim Mehul. Interestingly, IGP Mr. Anil Pratham who is going to approve the ‘C’ summary report belongs to SC and ‘hero’ of some Dalit organizations.

When commando of Harikrishna Patel, SP, Jamnagar fired on Dalit youths from his AK-47 rifle, Suresh Gogia tried to stop commando. Later Gogia was charged of snatching rifle of commando and was jailed with another six Dalits. All other Dalits were granted bail, but Gogia was not bailed out. Again, I requested Mukulbhai to file bail application before Justice Sonia Gokani in Gujarat High Court. After arduous legal battle Gogia was also given bail. With veteran Dalit activist Kanu Sumara, I personally went Surendranagar sub jail and delivered bail order. Gogia was released.

Thangadh battle is challenging because victims are fighting against a state government which is notoriously famous for its defense of killer cops. Thangadh is not an exception as we have seen in caste crimes like Khairlanjee, court verdicts are shockingly anti-Dalit. It is high time; Dalits of India unite under a single banner. Let us choose a day in a year. A day, Dalits of entire country would march to Delhi to slap the rulers. A rally of ten million Dalits is not a big deal.   

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