On the eve of the 126th Birth Anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar, yesterday, the Gujarat High Court refused a CBI Probe into the Dalit Flogging Case at Una.
Surprisingly, the refusal to grant a CBI probe is on grounds that it is not a `rarest of the rare' incident and that the investigation by CID (crime) was satisfactory. The Times of India has reported that despite a writ petition filed by Kanti Chavda, that prayed for an inquiry by the central agency, to investigate if there was a common conspiracy among the fanatical organisations and the Una-based NGO Shri Sanathan Charitable Trust or other organizations working across India, the High Court has turned the plea down. The decision of the High Court comes on the eve of Ambedkar Jayanti, April 13, 2017.
The HC has, in effect turned down the demand to investigate charges of conspiracy. In this petition, the petitioner wanted the CBI to probe why such organisations are terrorising particular castes and communities, and what the main agenda behind their illegal activities is. The probe should also demand, the petitioner has asked, whether other police officials, apart from those arrested in one month's time, were involved in the conspiracy.
The bench of Chief Justice R S Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi dismissed the PIL because the Una dalit flogging incident of July 11, 2016 was not one of the “rarest of the rare“ incidents that warrant a CBI probe. Such an in investigation can be ordered only in rare and exceptional cases, where high officials are involved or those that police does not investigate in a proper manner. The HC found the investigation to be satisfactory since forty-three persons including police personnel were arrested and charged in this case.
On July 11, 2016, four young Dalits were publicly flogged and paraded around in Una in broad daylight, for skinning a dead cow. The most inhuman kind of torture has been meted out to people on the pretext of cow protection, and the perpetrators in their bravado have uploaded the brutal acts on social media with impunity. The assaulters spread news of their act on a facebook video. Their actions sparked widespread protests in the state which transformed into a movement for Dalit rights. On July 31, at a Dalit Maha Sammelan in Ahmedabad, thousands of Dalits pledged to stop picking up carcasses and give up occupations like manual scavenging.
It also led to the formation of the Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti to seek justice for the victims of the brutal attack in Una. Shortly after, on August 5, 2016 the Dalit Asmita Yatra was flagged off from Ahmedabad and travelled over 400 kilometres through different villages of Gujarat. Pledges were taken in village after village to shun the traditional caste-based occupations of manual scavenging, cleaning sewer lines and skinning or disposing of dead cattle. The ten-day yatra culminated in the Azadi Kooch at Una on Independence Day. The Una protest and Dalit Asmita Rally are a historic response to attacks on Dalit lives, dignity and livelihood. They have seen an unprecedented unity of purpose with different individuals and progressive groups coming out in solidarity with this unique protest. The upsurge among Gujarat's Dalits even resulted in the resignation of then chief minister, Anandiben Patel. In a strange move, the then chief minister 'offered to resign' on August 1, through a facebook post on August 1, 2016.
Following the Una incident a Dalit man and his pregnant wife were allegedly beaten up by members of another community at Ugala village in Gir Somnath district for preventing them from grazing their cattle in a farm where the couple had been working as labourers. The incident happened on Christmas Day. Babubhai Sankhat (35) and his six-month pregnant wife Rekhaben (30) were allegedly attacked on December 25.“Babubhai and Rekhaben were hired by the farm owner to work in the cotton field at Ugala village. On December 25, they had an altercation with some members of a community who wanted to take their cattle in the field for grazing,” investigating officer and deputy superintendent of police, SC/ST Cell, PS Valvi said. An FIR was been registered at Gir-Gadhada police station in this regard. Police are yet to make any arrest.
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