On an average, 47 Dalits were killed every year in Gujarat between 2010 and 2014. In the same years, over 9588 cases of caste-based atrocities were reported by Dalits in the state. These numbers, however, are the tip of the iceberg as many more cases of caste atrocities go unreported. The death of Revabhai, a Dalit resident of Khadiya village of Surendranagar district in Gujarat, at the hands of ‘higher caste’ Thakurs would have been an unreported case too if his community and Video Volunteers community correspondent Bipin Solanki wouldn’t have demanded that the Police register a case and arrest the accused…
A day before Revabhai’s death, he and his entourage were flagged down by the Thakurs to help push their broken down car on the highway. However, they were mercilessly beaten up by Thakurs with hockey sticks because they slightly delayed getting down from the car to help. “As we got down, a man with a hockey stick started thrashing us all. He attacked Revabhai, as he got out of the car, hitting him behind his head,” a man who was present at the incident tells Bipin. The video report shows that the Dalits was beaten black and blue, with sustained injuries on back, hands and head.
The Dalits in the region are regularly met with violence at the hands of Thakurs, therefore, initially they were reluctant to file a case. However, when Revabhai succumbed to his injuries the next morning, things took a drastic turn. The community demanded that a tried to lodge a First Information Report (FIR) with the police, but to their dismay, the police refused to lodge it under the pretext that the death was due to an accident. The angered community sat on a strike in Khadiya village along with the dead body of Revabhai for 24 hours, before the police agreed to lodge a police complaint under IPC Section 302 (Murder),Section IPC 506 ( Criminal Intimidation) and Protection of Atrocities Act 1989 and arrest the accused.
While the police have initiated an investigation of the murder, its indifference to Dalit suffering in the region leaves Bipin and his community apprehensive that investigation will be carried out justly. The National Crime Records Bureau reports reveal that in 2014, crimes against the Scheduled Castes (SC) rose by 19% as compared to 2013. The Video Volunteers video report and many academic reports give an example of how violence against Dalits may be triggered by the slightest of offences. Bipin and his community are fighting hard to bring justice to the deceased Revabhai and put his perpetrators behind bars. Help build pressure on the police to take just actions to see that justice is served, devoid of caste prejudice.