Special Correspondent

GANDHINAGAR: The death in police custody of a Dalit at Ratanpur village in Wadhwan taluk created a stir among backward classes in Surendranagar district and led to a walkout in the Gujarat Assembly on Monday.

The middle-aged Dhanjibhai Patadiya and his son were allegedly picked up by the police following a complaint over a family dispute. Though the complaint was supposed to be a non-cognisable offence, the police took harsh measures against the accused following a telephone call from the local BJP MLA, it is alleged. What the MLA told the police was not known, but according to State Congress secretary Girish Parmar, Dhanjibhai and his son were forcibly taken in a police jeep and beaten up on way to the local police station and after reaching there. Mr. Parmar said Dhanjibhai succumbed to his injuries in the station.

As the news spread, a large number of people collected at the station and refused to accept the body for cremation. The “gherao” was lifted only after the officer in-charge of the station agreed to file a murder charge as well as a case under the atrocities Act against a constable and send the body for post-mortem by the panel of government doctors. The understanding was reached at the intervention of State Congress spokesman Himanshu Vyas.

In the Assembly, the Opposition walked out after Speaker Ashok Bhatt refused permission for a full discussion on the issue.