#Gujarat-Dalit families allege that Jamnagar SP offered them bribe to hush up Surendranagar firing case


“IPS officer offered us money to omit his name during investigation”

Dalit families allege that Jamnagar SP Harikrishna Patel offered them bribe to hush up Surendranagar firing case

Prakhar Jain , Tehelka
New Delhi

Valji Rathod, father of Mehul RathodPhoto: Ankit Agrawal

In a shocking disclosure, the families of Dalit youngsters killed in a police firing in Surendranagar district of Gujarat have alleged that a senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer had asked them to omit his name when their statements are recorded during investigations that are now underway. The families have alleged that the senior police officer tried to influence them with offers of money and jobs.

The firings which took place at Thangadh city of Surendranagar district in Gujarat led to the death of a Dalit boy on 22 September and two Dalit men on 23 September. The incidents caused a furore as the first firing was allegedly by a sub-inspector against people had earlier complained for being “anti-Dalit”. The second firing happened under the charge of SP Harikrishna Patel, whose commando had allegedly fired with an AK-47 on a group of Dalits, who were marching towards the Thangadh police station to lodge a complaint about the first incident.

The families say that Harikrishna Patel tried to influence them by sending an emissary to negotiate on his behalf. They say that Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) VD Kharadi, approached them twice and offered “whatever money” they wanted and a “job with a private company.”

Valji Rathod, father of 16-year-old Mehul Rathod who was killed in firing, said, “We were told to accept the offer or be ready to get killed in an accident or another firing. We refused because we wanted justice.” He said that they did not disclose this information earlier because they feared for the lives of their family members.

When contacted by TEHELKA, Harikrishna Patel denied approaching the families and refused to comment further stating that the case was under investigation by CID.

During the last day of the annual Tarnetar fair on 22 September, a skirmish broke out between the Dalit and the Bharwad (shepherd) community over a minor incident. The matter was later resolved by both the communities. However, that night, another skirmish broke out in which Pankaj Sumara (16), who was returning home from the fair, got shot at allegedly by sub-inspector KP Jadeja. Sumara was fatally injured in the neck.

The next day, on 23 September, a group of Dalit families marched toward the police station to report Sumara’s death, but were stopped near the Thangadh railway crossing by the police. The Dalit group alleges that the police then started firing indiscriminately at them without warning. Police, however, maintains that they fired only when the mob started pelting stones and tried to snatch their rifles. In the firing, Prakash Parmar (26) and Mehul Rathod (16) died after being hit by bullets on the chest. A Dalit boy, Chana Vaniya, and a couple of policemen were also seriously injured.

After a public outcry three cases were registered against sub-inspector KP Jadeja and three other policemen on 26 September for murder, rioting, unlawful assembly and conspiracy and a CID inquiry was ordered by the government. Anil Pratham, IGP, CID (crime), who is investigating the case, said, “There is a warrant against Jadeja and others and we are coordinating with district SPs to arrest them.”

However, human rights activists and the victims’ families are now demanding that action against Harikrishna Patel be also initiated. “The role of Harikrishna Patel has been established by the fact that his commando fired using an AK-47. He is equally responsible for the deaths, but his name hasn’t been mentioned in any FIR. He should be made an accused along with the Rajkot DIG,” demanded Kirit Rathod, a Dalit rights activist who works with an Ahmedabad based NGO Navsarjan and has been helping the Dalit families in the case.

Prakhar Jain is a Correspon

 

Gujarat: Minors among 3 Dalits killed in police firing #Narendramodi


Sept 24, agencies

Three Dalits, including two minors, died in two separate incidents of police firing near the Than police station in Surendranagar district. The first incident took place on Saturday night and the second one on Sunday evening.

The tragedy followed a clash between Dalits and members of Bharwad community over auctioning of stalls at an annual fair organised by the Than municipality. A Dalit youth was allegedly beaten up by the Bharwads on Friday after which the Dalits filed a complaint against them with the Than police station.

The following night, the two groups clashed again near the police station, according to Superintendent of Police Raghvendra Vats.

He said that soon the police intervened, following which the Dalits allegedly clashed with them. During the clash, sub-inspector K P Jadeja allegedly opened fire, injuring 17-year-old Prakash Amarsinh. The youth died at the Rajkot Civil Hospital.

There were just four or five policemen present during this incident, Vats added.

The SP said the two groups clashed with each other again on Sunday afternoon and when the police reached the spot, they allegedly pelted stones at them. The policemen again opened fire at the mob, killing two Dalit youths — Mehul (16) and Prakash (24) — and injuring one. The condition of injured Chhana Mauji Vaniya is said to be critical.Witnesses said Prakash was shot thrice.

According to Valjibhai Patel, a local activist, the situation remained tense in the town till late on Sunday as the Dalits refused to take the bodies and demanded stern action against sub-inspector Jadeja.

Rajkot Range IG Praveen Sinha said that hundreds of community leaders had converged at the Rajkot Circuit House and police were trying to pacify the angry Dalits.

In-charge DGP Chittaranjan Singh said that CID (crime) DIG R V Jotangia has been asked to investigate the incident. “He will probe if there was any negligence on the part of police and if it is proved, action will be taken against them,” said Singh.

While state Social Justice Minister Fakirbhai Vaghela he would be visiting the town, an inquiry has been initiated by the social welfare department under its secretary Sanjay Prasad, said sources in the government.

The government is suspecting ‘overreaction’ on the part of police. District Congress spokesperson Naushad Solanki blamed the police for the incident. He said Than Municipality chief Vasram Chavda, a Dalit, had complained against SI Jadeja allegedly for being anti-Dalit and had even staged protest against him. Subsequently, Jadeja was transferred last week, but he was yet to be relieved.

District Collector Pradeep Shah, however, said it was not a case of atrocity “but rather a law and order problem”.

This comes on a day when Chief Minister Narendra Modi was touring the district as part of his Swami Vivekanand Yuva Vikas Yatra.

The incident also affected railway traffic between Rajkot and Ahmedabad, which passes through Than, for several hours.

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