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Fact finding report on Una, Gujarat

Peoples Voice on August 3, 2016 - 7:04 pm in Society

This report is presented by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Gujarat to National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi and is released by Ms. Manjula Pradeep, Executive Director of Navsarjan Trust, Gujarat (Chairperson of the fact-finding team) and Shri Gautam Thaker, General Secretary of PUCL, Gujarat.

  1. Brief background of the village:

Mota Samdhiyala village is 23 kms away from Una head quarters in Gir Somnath district. Gir Somnath was earlier part of Junagadh district, which is declared as atrocity prone area by the Government of Gujarat. It consists of around 2400 population. The main communities living in the village are Ahirs, Patels, Dalits and Barber. Patels and Ahirs are the dominant communities in this village. 27 Dalit families belonging to Chamar caste are residing in this village and they are landless agricultural labourers. Few Dalits own a small piece of land. Some of the Dalit families are engaged in removal of carcasses and leather tanning. They do this caste based occupation in not only in their village, but also in nearb villages. Each family engaged in this occupation gets their turn every Friday. The village panchayat does not have a reserved seat for a Dalit member and the chair person in the social justice committee, which is part of the village panchyat as co-opted. No development work has been done for Dalits by the village panchayat. Only one Dalit household has a toilet. The Dalit locality, does not have proper roads or path ways and there are no street lights. The village panchayat has not allocated a place for leather tanning and has also not provided any facility for disposal of the carcasses. Hence the Dalits decides themselves about where to do leather tanning and dispose of the dead bodies of the animals. Majority of the Dalits are illiterate and few of them have finished high school. Only one youth at present is pursuing study in engineering.

2. Details about the incident:

Complainant’s father Shri. Balubhai Sarvaiya hails from leather tanning caste called as Rohit caste in Gujarat. He has been doing caste based occupation for a long period of time. He not only gets dead animals from his village, but also from the nearby villages.

Sarpanch (Village head) of Mota Samadhiyala, Shri Prafulbhai Korat who comes from dominant caste (Patel community) had been harassing Balubhai for quite some time. He also had issued written notices to Balubhai, to demolish his small room constructed in the agricultural land. 6 months back, there were some heated arguments between the village head and Balubhai and the village head challenged him” तू अभी जो धंधा कर रहा है वह बंध कर दे, तेरी मरी हुई गाये कभी भी जजन्दा हो सकती है और यह तुझे बहुत भारी पड़ेगा” . But Balubhai did not took this threat seriously.

On 11th July 2016, Balubhai got a phone call from Naajabhai Danabhai Ahir from Bediya village that his cow was attacked by a lion and has been killed and he asked him to take the dead cow. So he went to bring the dead cow and brought it to Samadhiyala village. Again he got a call from Jivabhai Koli from Motisara village that his cow has died and also asked him to take the dead body of the cow. Hence Balubhai asked his son to get the dead cows. All the cows were brought on the waste land bordering two village panchayats of Mota Samadhiyala and Bediya at around 10 am on 11th July 2016, by Dalit youth Vashram Sarvaiya, Ramesh Sarvaiya, Bechar Sarvaiya and Ashok Sarvaiya and they started skinning the dead cows.

Meanwhile a four wheeler came and saw them and went away. Little later, several youth on 25-30 bikes came with sticks and iron pipes. They started shouting “ सालो, जजन्दा गायोको काट रहे हो” They also started abusing the Dalit youth with caste based derogatory words and then started hitting the four dalit youth with sticks and rods. The victims kept on saying that these are all dead cows, but the accused kept on beating them.

A man from Devipujak (OBC) caste witnessed this incident and informed Balubhai Sarvaiya on the phone that his son and other Dalit youth are being beaten up by a big mob. Hence Balubhai and his wife rushed to the place of incident. They requested the mob not to beat the Dalit youth.

But the attackers did not listened to the plea and they kept on beating the four dalit youth for one and half hours. After this the accused removed the shirts of the four Dalit youth and forced them to sit in their vehicle. Balubhai also tried to sit in the vehicle, but he was hit on the head with iron pipe by the attackers and he fall down there. His wife, who tried to save him, was also beaten up by the attackers. The attackers took the four Dalit youth towards Una town. On the way they met a police vehicle, which asked them to stop and there was conversation between the police and the attackers that they are taking the four Dalit youth to Una town. The police told the attackers that they are going to the place of the incident. This shows that the police were involved in this atrocity.

After reaching Una town, all the four Dalit youth were tied to the back side of the four wheeler no. DD.03.F.1294. On the back side of the car was written” President- Shiv Sena, District- Gir Somnath. After tying the four Dalit youth, the attackers started hitting them with sticks and Iron pipes and took the four victims from Una Bus stand to Una police station and were put in police lock up. The entire incident was also videotaped by the attackers.

Meanwhile, 108 ambulance was sent to take the complainant Babubhai and his wife to be treated in the hospital. The police told the ambulance driver to take Balubhai and his wife to Gir Gadhda town instead of Una town. But Balubhai and wife said that they want to go to Una town for medical treatment. The police threatened them and also misbehaved with them.

Meanwhile, people of Una town also came to know that four Dalit youth are been beaten and they started gathering at the place of incident, where the Dalit youth were being beaten. Seeing the Dalits coming around, the attackers escaped from the place of incident.

After due pressure from Dalits, late in the evening F.I.R. was lodged against the attackers.

Read below full documents

Report of PUCL to NHRC 

Annexure 1

Annexure 2

Special Remarks Annexure 3