Kejriwal meets Dalits, says attackers had official backing

Una (Gujarat), July 22 (IANS) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday alleged that the self-styled cow vigilantes who thrashed Dalit boys had the blessings of the Gujarat government.

“The way the toughies flogged the Dalit boys openly with staffs resembling police batons, dragged them to the police station and thrashed them there also with the cops watching. The inaction by the police could not have been without some signal from the top,” the AAP leader said.

“They were thrashed in full public view. If such an incident happens in the presence of the administration, it means those culprits were backed by higher powers. It shows the government was involved,” Kejriwal said.

He demanded strictest punishment for the guilty and claimed that many more people were involved in the incident but only a few had been arrested so far.

“There are 40 people involved in this, not just the 16 who have been arrested.”

After meeting the four victims at the Civil Hospital here, Kejriwal told the media: “The culprits must get such punishment that it should shake them to the core. An example must be set.”

Like Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, the Chief Minister also had tea with the Dalit family of Babubhai Sarvaiya in Samadhiyala village in Una. He had tea in a saucer in traditional Saurashtra style.

Putting his arm over the shoulder of Babubhaia’s daughter Vanita, Kejriwal said: “This girl is a student of nursing and the family had taken a loan of Rs 50,000 for her studies. To pay up the loan, they had to do this leather business. The state government should give her a permanent job.”

He accused the Gujarat government of being “anti-Dalit”.

Four Dalit youths were stripped above the waist and beaten mercilessly with iron rods in a village by a cow protection group for skinning a dead cow. The video of the thrashing went viral, sparking outrage nationwide.

Kejriwal separately described the cow protection groups that have sprung up in recent times as “BJP goondas unleashed by the top BJP leadership to polarise society and create fear in the minds of people”.

A day earlier, Kejriwal said an atmosphere of “oppression” prevailed across Gujarat and people of all communities were feeling threatened.

In a video message, he asked people to unite and raise their voice against what he called was the “oppression” of the state.



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