Tension Simmers on Gujarat’s Highways after Massive Dalit Protest

Received August 15th evening

Violence broke out this morning on the highway.

We’ve been at Una Police Station since afternoon. The Una victim families, Balubai Sarvaiyya and others who feel threatened want police to escort them back to their villages after violence broke out on the highway today morning. Two cars have been burnt, vehicles are being stoned, roads are blocked. They also want police to put up a post in their villages. But the police is keeping mum. The families continue to agitate in whatever ways they can to express their anguish but the police is clearly indifferent. The Yatra came to an end today on a high note but how much has anything changed?

As Dalits march in hundreds of thousands in the Dalit Asmita Yatra from different places to Una, where four Dalits were flogged for skinning dead cattle, one contingent was physically attacked by ‘upper’ caste villagers at Samter village yesterday. A Bolero with 8 people inside was attacked, the vehicle was damaged and petrol was poured on the vehicle

Dalits Face Attacks to Una and Back: August 14 and 15 as irate persons calling them Gau rakshaks attack vehicles attending the rally

Last night SabrangIndia had carried a late night report that exposed how Dalits were attacked on their way to Una

Photos sent by Maharahstrian contingent. Car was stoned by alleged Gau Rakshaks

Dalits and Other Protesters Leaving Una in Saurashtra Gujarat after a mammoth Mahasammelan that issued a direct challenge to the ruling governments at the state and centre were subject to mob attacks as several spots on the exit points near the highways were manned by armed 'Gau Rakshaks' in their hundreds, determined to flex their muscle. A police official at the Gujarat Police Control Room confirmed that there was tension at many spots but said that the police would protect the protesters. There are reports collected by Sabrangindia that reveal that six people, all Dalits, were seriously injured in the violence. Late past midnight, Sabrangindia had reported how cow vigilantes had attacked Dalits arriving from different parts of the state and country and complaints hd even been lodged at the Una police station.

It all began on the morning of Sunday, August 14 at Samter leading to an appeal being sent out in the thousands by What’s App, in Gujarati, by the Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti, “For all those converging at Una on the #Chalo Una Call, the organizers are issuing this fervent appeal: Please take Full Precautions and do not come via Samter.” Samter was where the first brute attacks, using lathis on the head and feet, took place. As the police watched.

An entire contingent of Dalit protesters who hd arrived from Maharashtra to attend the protest were set upon nd their vehicle damaged. Laxman told Sabrangindia, "we only escaped because we deliberately sped away at a high speed. Another batch has been severely attacked," he added.

Meanwhile, the relatives of Una victims injured in mob attack after trying to leave Dalit rally. The family was on the highway when a crowd set upon their car near Samter village, which has been rocked by violent protests for the past two days.

Image credit:  Aarefa Johari, scroll.in

Six relatives of the Dalit tanners who were beaten up in Gujarat’s Una district last month were attacked on Monday after attending the rallyorganised by the Una Dalit Fight against Atrocities Committee earlier in the day. The family of six told Scroll.in that they were set upon by a huge mob on the highway near Samter village, located 12 km from Una. They were on their way to Mota Samadhiyala , where the four tanners live.
One of the members of the family, Meena Sarvaiya, said to Scrol.in, “While we were crossing Samter, a huge mob of hundreds of people approached our car from the front, carrying swords, sticks and bottles of kerosense. They surrounded us and smashed the windows.” The family claimed that several police vehicles were patrolling the highway at the time, but no one came to their rescue. They sustained injuries from the broken glass.

They had to reverse the car for nearly one kilometre to escape the mob, they added. They returned to Una, where they were treated for their injuries, and then went to the local police station. They claim the police have been uncooperative, but they are determined not to leave the station till a First Information Report is filed. This is the same police station near which the four tanners were beaten up on July 11.

According to locals, stone pelting incidents have been reported from Samter village for the past two days, though it is unclear why the violence there began. Some said several residents of Samter belong to the same community as those who beat up the tanners. The unrest has meant that the road leading out of Una has been blocked. Dalit protestors have since created a counter-block on the same road, effectively cutting off Una from other parts of the state. However, the leaders of the morning rally, which was attended by thousands of Dalits from around the state, appeared to have left the scene.

The local police have refused to comment. However, one official toldScroll.in that three cases of stone-pelting have been filed at Samter, and two other villages nearby called Rameshwar Patiya and Nandrak. No arrests have been made so far.

There are concerns that Dalits, including the survivors of the July 11 atrocity will be attacked through the nigh, sources told Sabrangindia.



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