Over 30 Dalit groups from across Gujarat have pledged not to lift carcasses after Dalit youth were publicly flogged for skinning a dead cow by self-proclaimed cow protectors in Una. This is the first time such large numbers from the community are coming together to protest Dalit atrocities. They are backed by the quasi-religious body Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind.
The Dalit community in Gujarat have been rallying under the banner of “Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti” (Una Dalit Fight against Atrocities Committee). Jignesh Mevani, a local lawyer, is their convener. The protests in the state began on July 4, after four youth were beaten in public. Widespread protests followed; several buses were torched and 11 Dalits attempted suicide.
An inquiry conducted by the government revealed that the father of one of the youth was called in the morning on July 4 to remove the carcass of a cow which had been killed by a lion. The youth were wrongly accused of killing the cow, and beaten.
Yogesh Sarikhda, one of the Dalits who had consumed acid mixed with pesticide in a suicide attempt on July 19, died during treatment in Ahmedabad on Sunday morning. “He was rushed to Ahmedabad civil hospital from Rajkot after his condition deteriorated. He reached here last midnight but passed away soon after,” police said.
The four Dalit youth, Ashok Sarvaiya, Vashram Sarvaiya, Bechar Sarvaiya and Ramesh Sarvaiya, are in a civil hospital in Ahmedabad, where they are being treated for depression. They reportedly developed serious complications and complained of severe body pain.
Authorities have arrested 22 people in connection with the case.