The bandh call given by Dalit organisations to protest the brutal thrashing of the community youths in Una town got a mixed response today with incidents of stone-pelting and road blockade reported at some places, even as Chief Minister Anandiben Patel met family members of the victims.
'I met Dalit families of victims of Una incident & assured them full support of government' (sic), tweets Ms Patel.
The Congress, meanwhile, announced that party vice president Rahul Gandhi will visit Una tomorrow. AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is also likely to visit the place on Friday.Some parts of Saurashtra and north Gujarat regions observed total bandh where sporadic incidents of stone-pelting and road blockade were witnessed.
The bandh has been largely peaceful so far, police said, adding that it had no affect in other parts of the state. The Dalit community members continued their protest across the state against the brutal assault on some community members on July 11 for allegedly skinning a cow at Una in Gir-Somnath district. Police has been deployed as standby in many areas of the state.
The bandh was largely observed in Amreli and Junagadh cities of Saurashtra region, including some other small towns like Dhoraji and Dhrol with some incidents of damaging buses and stone-pelting reported during protest.
The protest call crippled life in Junagadh and Amreli as schools, colleges and business establishment observed total bandh. Some protesters damaged a state transport bus at a depot in Junagadh, police said.
Rajkot also witnessed street protests during the bandh following which around 50 people were detained by police. However, the bandh call was not followed in the town and the situation was normal. In Patan, a group of protesters pelted stones at a movie theatre, forcing its closure. They also forced road blockade in the town, police said.
As a precautionary measure, authorities have decided to shut down several routes of state transport buses due to the bandh call and protest by Dalit Panthers and other community organisations. In Ahmedabad, the protesters tried to enforce bandh in some pockets, like Chandkheda and Kalapinagar, where they were seen forcing markets and schools to shut down.
Chief Minister Anandiben Patel visited Mota Samaliyala village in Una, where the alleged incident of beating of seven Dalits had taken place triggering violence across the state, and met family members of the victims. Ms Patel assured them that the government has taken all measures to ensure that the victims get justice. “The scene of beating of Dalits will be disturbing to anyone who witnesses it. The beating, in the manner it took place, is not becoming of any civilised society. The state government has done everything possible, including arrest of the accused, and (facilitating) hospitalisation of the injured,” Patel said after the meeting.
She was accompanied by state Social Justice Minister Ramanlal Vora and Ahmedabad MP Kirit Solanki. The state has been witnessing widespread protests following the incident. The Dalit protests have spread to several parts of the state unleashing violence, in which a head constable was killed during stone-pelting in Amreli district yesterday.
Besides, state transport buses were attacked and more than 10 members of the community allegedly attempted suicide. Meanwhile, Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said Rahul Gandhi will meet the Dalit victims and their family members during his visit to the state tomorrow.
“He will land at Diu and reach Una by road tomorrow morning. He is scheduled to meet family members of the victims. Gandhi will then reach Rajkot and meet some of the victims, who are undergoing treatment at a hospital there. He will then leave for Delhi,” said Doshi.