Scores of migrant workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are leaving Gujarat after the arrest of a Bihar man for allegedly raping a 14-month-old girl in the Sabarkantha district last week.
Following the incident, several migrants have been getting threats, while many have been targeted. The police have so far arrested 342 people from various parts of Gujarat.
"Six districts have mainly been affected (by the violence), with Mehsana and Sabarkantha being the worst hit. In these districts, 42 cases have been lodged and so far we have arrested 342 accused. More arrests will be made as names of the accused come up during investigation," Director General of Police Shivanand Jha told reporters.
He said 17 companies of State Reserve Police (SRP) have been deployed in the affected areas. "Security of areas inhabited by non-Gujaratis and the factories where they work has been increased. Police have also increased patrolling in these areas," he added.
Two cases have been lodged for spreading rumours on social media which led to violence, the DGP said.
“They come to our houses and ask us to leave,” Devendra Rathod, a resident of Ahmedanbad’s Chandlodiya area, told Hindustan Times.
Shyamsinh Thakur, president of Uttar Bharatiya Vikas Parishad, said: “We have received reports that in many parts of Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Sabarkantha and Aravali districts migrants have been asked to leave by October 8. We have asked them to contact the local police.”
“We have never before experienced such threats in Gujarat. We fear that if this escalates, it may sow the seeds of regional divide,” added Thakur.
The girl, who was raped, belongs to Thakor community. Congress MLA and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor has decided to sit on an indefinite fast from October 8 demanding justice and compensation for the victim.
The state government has already announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the girl’s family. Thakor is demanding that the amount be raised to Rs 5 lakh, the HT report added.
On October 3, a mob allegedly comprising members of the Thakor community engaged in vandalism in Chandlodia area of Ahmedabad, demanding people from north India to leave the city, said the police.Hindi-speaking migrants who have been living in Gujarat for years are fleeing the state fearing violence.
In some cases, landlords have asked them to leave as well, The Indian Express reported.