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People returning from ''Dalit pride march'' attacked

The Gujarat police have arrested 22 persons who allegedly assaulted Dalits returning from the Dalit Pride March held in Una to protest against atrocities and discrimination faced by Dalits in the state.

The clashes between Dalits and other community members took place near Samter village late on Monday night, when a group of Dalits was returning after the rally. Four policemen were among those injured in the clashes.

The police had to baton charge and lob tear gas shells to disperse mobs clashing over stone-pelting.

According to sources, the incident occurred near Samter, where villagers allegedly blocked the road and started assaulting Dalits. “After the rally, anti-social elements blocked the road near Samter when Dalits were returning. They attacked a group of Dalits. We lobbed 46 teargas shells, fired 6 rounds in the air and used batons to disperse the mob,” Gir-Somnath Superintendent of Police H.R. Chaudhary told the media on Tuesday.

The SP added that 22 persons have been arrested for rioting and assaults on Dalits and policemen.

In the stone-pelting, at least a dozen members of the Dalit community were injured and around eight of them suffered severe wounds.

The victims claimed that the residents of Samter attacked them to avenge the arrest of 12 people of the village in connection with the public flogging of Dalits by cow vigilante groups on July 11, which triggered state-wide protests by Dalits.

They said that of the 30-odd people arrested till date in the Una incident, 12 are residents of Samter, located near Mota Samadhiyala, where cow vigilantes assaulted a group of Dalits for allegedly skinning a dead cow.

The Dalit community has now demanded police protection for its people in villages near Una. “We want police protection, otherwise dominant local castes will keep assaulting us,” said Balubhai Sarvaiya from Una. Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned the Gujarat government to act against those assaulting Dalits, or face the consequences in the Assembly polls next year. Mr Kejriwal, who was here to pay last respects to the Swaminarayan sect’s Pramukh Swami, slammed the BJP government, alleging that BJP leaders were hand in glove with those assaulting Dalits in the state. “The police again did nothing to save the Dalits who were attacked. This proves that the attackers are goons sent by the BJP government,” Mr. Kejriwal said.“I want to warn the Gujarat BJP government that if they do not refrain from supporting anti-social elements who target Dalits, the people of Gujarat will teach the government a lesson in the assembly polls next year,” Mr Kejriwal said, adding that the BJP government has failed in the state and there is widespread anger against the government as a result. According to him, the Gujarat government first targeted the Patidar community and was now harassing the Dalit community. “It seems every community in the state is frustrated with the government and is raising its voice. There is jungle raj [lawlessness] in Gujarat,” he claimed.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 4:24:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/People-returning-from-Dalit-pride-march-attacked/article14572869.ece

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