NHRC should set up special investigation team to investigate, collect authentic facts on Una incident

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PUCL team in Mota Samadhiyala at Babubhai Sarvaiya’s residence

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Gujarat, has handed over a detailed report on the Una incident to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), New Delhi. Prepared by a team headed by Manjula Pradeep, executive director of Navsarjan Trust, the report is based on the team’s visit to Una and Rajkot in the last week of July 2016. Apart from meeting the victims and their families and visiting the place of incident, the team also had a meeting with IG CID (crime) in Una. Other members if the team were Nitaben Mahadev, secretary, Gujarat Lok Samiti; Meenakshiben Joshi, Movement for Secular Democracy; Govind Parmar, advocate and activist; Kantilal Parmar, programme director, Navsarjan Trust; TP Babaria, retired RBI officer, writer and activist from Una town; and Deena Vankar and Madhu Koradiya, senior workers, Navsarjan Trust. Text of the report:

Brief background of the village:

Mota Samdhiyala village is 23 kms away from Una headquarters in Gir Somnath district. Gir Somnath was earlier part of Junagadh district, which is declared as atrocity prone area by the Government of Gujarat. It consists of around 2400 population. The main communities living in the village are Ahirs, Patels, Dalits and Barber. Patels and Ahirs are the dominant communities in this village. Twenty seven Dalit families belonging to the Chamar caste are residing in this village and they are landless agricultural labourers. Few Dalits own a small piece of land.

Some of the Dalit families are engaged in removal of carcasses and leather tanning. They do this caste based occupation not only in their village, but also in nearby villages. Each family engaged in this occupation gets its turn every Friday.

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Team members talking with the villagers

The village panchayat does not have a reserved seat for a Dalit member and the chair person in the social justice committee, which is part of the village panchyat as co-opted. No development work has been done for Dalits by the village panchayat. Only one Dalit household has a toilet. The Dalit locality does not have proper roads or path ways and there are no street lights.

The village panchayat has not allocated a place for leather tanning and has also not provided any facility for disposal of the carcasses. Hence the Dalits decides themselves about where to do leather tanning and dispose of the dead bodies of the animals. Majority of the Dalits are illiterate and few of them have finished high school. Only one youth at present is pursuing study in engineering.

Details about the incident:

The complainant’s father Balubhai Sarvaiya hails from leather tanning caste called as Rohit caste in Gujarat. He has been doing caste based for occupation for a long period of time. He not only gets dead animals from his village, but also from the nearby villages.

Sarpanch (village head) of Mota Samadhiyala, Prafulbhai Korat who comes from dominant caste (Patel community) had been harassing Balubhai for quite some time. He also had issued written notices to Balubhai, to demolish his small room constructed in the agricultural land. Six months back, there were some heated arguments between the village head and Balubhai and the village head challenged him “तू अभी जो धंधा कर रहा है वह बंध कर दे, तेरी मरी हुई गाये कभी भी जिंदा हो सकती है और यह तुझे बहुत भारी पड़ेगा” . But Balubhai did not take this threat seriously.

On July 11, 2016, Balubhai got a phone call from Naajabhai Danabhai Ahir from Bediya village that his cow was attacked by a lion and has been killed and he asked him to take the dead cow. So he went to bring the dead cow and brought it to Samadhiyala village. Again he got a call from Jivabhai Koli from Motisara village that his cow has died and also asked him to take the dead body of the cow. Hence Balubhai asked his son to get the dead cows. All the cows were brought on the waste land bordering two village panchayats of Mota Samadhiyala and Bediya at around 10 am on July 11, 2016, by Dalit youth Vashram Sarvaiya, Ramesh Sarvaiya, Bechar Sarvaiya and Ashok Sarvaiya, and they started skinning the dead cows.

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Team members at the spot where Dalits were skinning dead cows

Meanwhile, a four wheeler came and saw them and went away. Little later, several youth on 25-30 bikes came with sticks and iron pipes. They started shouting “ सालो, जिंदा  गायोको काट रहे हो” They also started abusing the Dalit youth with caste based derogatory words and then started hitting the four dalit youth with sticks and rods. The victims kept on saying that these are all dead cows, but the accused kept on beating them. A man from Devipujak (OBC) caste witnessed this incident and informed Balubhai Sarvaiya on the phone that his son and other Dalit youth are five being beaten up by a big mob. Hence Balubhai and his wife rushed to the place of incident. They requested the mob not to beat the Dalit youth. But the attackers did not listened to the plea and they kept on beating the four Dalit youth for one and half hours.

After this the accused removed the shirts of the four Dalit youth and forced them to sit in their vehicle. Balubhai also tried to sit in the vehicle, but he was hit on the head with iron pipe by the attackers and he fall down there. His wife, who tried to save him, was also beaten up by the attackers. The attackers took the four Dalit youth towards Una town. On the way they met a police vehicle, which asked them to stop and there was conversation between the police and the attackers that they are taking the four Dalit youth to Una town. The police told the attackers that they are going to the place of the incident. This shows that the police were involved in this atrocity.

After reaching Una town, all the four Dalit youth were tied to the back side of the four wheeler No DD 03 F 1294. On the back side of the car was written president, Shiv Sena, district Gir Somnath. After tying the four Dalit youth, the attackers started hitting them with sticks and iron pipes and took the four victims from Una bus stand to Una police station and were put in police lock up. The entire incident was also videotaped by the attackers.

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Place of the incident where skinning was taking place, 2.5 km away from Mota Samadhiyala village, located in Bediya village

Meanwhile, 108 ambulance was sent to take the complainant Babubhai and his wife to be treated in hospital. The police told the ambulance driver to take Balubhai and his wife to Gir Gadhda town instead of Una town. But Balubhai and wife said that they wanted to go to Una town for medical treatment. The police threatened them and also misbehaved with them.

Meanwhile, people of Una town also came to know that four Dalit youth were been beaten and they started gathering at the place of incident, where 6 the Dalit youth were baeing beaten. Seeing the Dalits coming around, the attackers escaped from the place of incident. After due pressure from Dalits, late in the evening FIR was lodged against the attackers and their names are: (1) Pramodgiri Rameshgiri, hailing from Simar village in Una block; (2) Balvant Dhirubhai from Una town; (3) Ramesh Bhagwanbhai, hailing from Samter village, Una block; (4) Rakesh, hailing from Bhimpara, Una town; (5) Rasik, hailing from Bhimpara, Una town; and (6) Naagji Dahyabhai Aahir, hailing from Bediya village in Gir Gadhda block.

Important facts related to the First Information Report (FIR):

  1. Name of the Complainant: Vasharambhai Balubhai Sarvaiya, Scheduled caste, 23 year old, resident of Mota Samadhiyala village, Una block, Gir Somnath district.
  2. FIR was written by the Police at the referral Hospital in Una town.
  3. Date of Incident: 11/06/2016, time: 10:30 am in the morning.
  4. FIR lodged on 11/6/2016 Station, time: 19:30 pm, Station diary no. 16, 19:30 pm.
  5. Police Station: Una Police Station.
  6. District: Gir Somnath.
  7. Sections invoked in the FIR: Crime reg. no. 127/2016, IPC sections no. 307, 395, 324, 323, 504, BPA 135 and 3(2) 5 of Sc/St (PoA) act.
  8. Name of the other accused arrested until the fact finding report was prepared are: (1) Nagjibhai Dayabhai Ahir, Bediya village, Una block,(Pancholi Ahir-OBC); (2) Nileshbhai Manbhai Gohil, (Khant Darbar, OBC); (3) Satishbhai Narotambhai Parmar, (Mistri-OBC); (4) Mahmadsafi Mustakbhai Naya (Sipai, Muslim, OBC) (5) Bharatbhai Zalambhai Gohil, (Khant Darbar, OBC); (6) Jaydevsinh Pratapsinh Gohil, (Khant Darbar-OBC); (7) Goyal Khatu Hamirbhai Gohil,(Khant Darbar-OBC); (8) Pratap Pathubhai Gohil, (Khant Darbar-OBC); (9) Vikramsinh Malabha Darbar (Khant Darbar-OBC); (10) Sumit Merubhai Gohil (Khant Darbar-OBC); (11) Ajitsinh Karnsinh Gohil (Khant Darbar-OBC); (12) Dipakbhai Viththalbhai Shiyal; (13) Vipul Gohil; (14) Vinu Gohil; (15) Babu Gohil; (16) Bhavesh Godhani; and (17) Information not received.

Total 23 accused have been arrested by the CID crime until now.

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The victims being beaten up in Una town on July 11

Details of Victims:

The names of the victims are as below: (1) Vasharambhai Balubhai Sarvaiya (complainant), age 23, resident of Mota Samadhiyala, Una, Gir Somnath; (2) Balubhai Virabhai Sarvaiya, resident of Mota Samadhiyala, Una, Gir Somnath (age 46); (3) Kuvarben Balubhai Sarvaiya, resident of Mota Samadhiiyala, Una, Gir Somnath (age 45) (4) Devashibhai Kalabhai Babariya, resident of Bediya village, Una, Gir Somnath; (5) Ashokbhai Bijalbhai Sarvaiya (age 17); (6) Becharbhai Ugabhai (age 26 years); and (7) Rameshbhai Balubhai Sarvaiya (age 21)

F.I. R. was written by: K.B. Chudasama, Head constable, Buckle no. 610, by Una Police Sub Inspector: N.U. Zala, Police station No 02875-224766. Investigation officers: Kiritkumar Joshi, Dy.S.P.(SC/ST Cell), Gir Somnath district; SS.P. Gir Somnath H.R. Chaudhary; Brijeshkumar Jha, IGP, Junagadh range, Junagadh.

Present Investigation team: Investigation has been handed over to CID (Crime), Gandhinagar, on 19/07/2016 (1) Shashikant S Trivedi, IGP; (2) Sujata Majmudar- SSP; (3) Sarvada, DySP; (4) PI Junagadh and Rajkot CID (Crime).

Medical treatment given to the victims: Three victims Balubhai Virabhai Sarvaiya, Ramesh Balubhai Sarvaiya and. Kuvarben Balubhai Sarvaiya were first sent to Gir-Gadhda referral hospital and then were sent for further medical treatment at Junagadh Civil Hospital. Two victims, Balubhai Sarvaiya and Kuvarben Sarvaiya, were discharged on July 19, 2016. One victim Rameshbhai was sent for further medical treatment at Rajkot civil hospital. Four victims Vasrambhai Balubhai Sarvaiya,  Ashokbhai Bijalbhai, Becharbhai Ugabhai and Rameshbhai Balubhai Sarvaiya were first admitted at Una referral hospital and then sent for further medical treatment at Rajkot civil hospital on July 16, 2016 and were discharged on July 26, 2016.

The PUCL team tried to explain to the doctors and the superintendent on July 25 evening that the victims have not only undergone physical injuries, but they have also undergone psychological trauma and hence they need more time to heal, but both the doctors and the superintendent did not hear our pleas and accused us of having political intentions behind the same. When the four victims reached their village on the July 26, two of them started having medical complications and they were immediately sent to the civil hospital in Ahmedabad for further medical treatment on July 27, 2016. At present, all four of them are under medical treatment in the Ahmedabad civil hospital. One of the victims, named Devshibhai Kalabhai Babariya was admitted in Una referral hospital, and was released after giving first aid treatment.

Names of the Suspended Police officers of Una Police station: (1) NU Chavda, police Inspector; (2) Kanchanben Parmar, – police constable; (3) Kanji Chudasama, head constable; and (4) Hardevsinh Parmar, police constable.

Compensation provided by the State government as per the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 2015 is Rs 1 lakh to be each affected victim. Other reliefs are Rs 5 lakh was given by Congress Party, Gujarat; Rs 2 lakh was given by the Nationalist Congress Party, Praful Patel, Mumbai; Rs 59000 is given as contribution by the Dalit community of Gujarat, apart from grocery items are given by the Dalit communities of Gujarat.

Recommendations for this incident:

  1. Arrest of the remaining accused involved in the attack and in conspiring the atrocity, which includes Police, Village head and other attackers.
  2. IPC Sections 34, 364, 355, 120 (B), 506 (2,. 141, 142, 143, 144, 146, 147, 149 and Atrocity Act section 3 (1) d, 3 (1) e, 3 (1) i, 3 (1) r, 3 (1) s. 3 (1) w (i) (ii) need to be invoked in the FIR.
  3. Government should establish an investigation panel with two sitting judges of High Court of Gujarat, to inquire in this incident.
  4. Investigation should be finished within sixty days and charge sheet should be filed in the court.
  5. State government should constitute an exclusive special court for the speedy trial of the case.
  6. Interim relief of Rs 10 Lakh should be imparted to each victim, as it’s a case of atrocity and human rights violations in the public place, stripping and naked parading and then beating with sticks, iron rods, etc.
  7. Appointment of at least two credible and genuine Special public prosecutors in this case is utmost necessary.
  8. Ensure that adequate police protection is provided to the victims and their families, until the trial is not over and ensure their due security, during and after delivery of justice.
  9. State government should allocate five acres land to each affected family as rehabilitation measure to liberate them from caste-based occupation.
  10. NHRC should set up special investigation team to investigate and collect authentic facts related to this incident.

Special Recommendations to NHRC:

  1. May set up task force for monitoring of serious atrocity cases against Dalits , which were reported in last 10 years in Gujarat.
  2. May hold public tribunal on atrocities on Dalits in Gujarat.
  3. Direct the State government of Gujarat, for a status report on situation of Dalits in Gujarat.
  4. Direct the State Government of Gujarat, to report on the status of implementation of laws for the protection of rights of Dalits in Gujarat.
  5. May ensure that cow vigilante groups (Gau Rakshak Dal) should be declared illegal and banned across the state of Gujarat and in the county.
  6. May direct the State Government to submit action plan undertaken after the atrocity on Dalits in Mota Samadhiyala village and measures laid out in 11 atrocity prone districts declared by the government of Gujarat.
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