New Gujarat CM sets up SIT in Thangadh case

Gandhinagar, Aug 20 (IANS) Bowing to pressure, the Gujarat government has finally reopened the sensational case of the killing of three Dalit youths in alleged police firing in 2012 in Thangadh by setting up a special investigation team (SIT).

The SIT will comprise Rajkot Police Commissioner Anupam Singh Gehlot, Surat Deputy Commissioner of Police (zone-2) Parikshita Rathiod and Porbandar district police chief Tarun Kumar Duggal.

The three Dalit youths died in police firing on a protest rally in Thangadh on September 22-23, 2012.

Soon after the announcement on the SIT, the families of the three Dalit youths, sitting on a dharna in Gandhinagar, ended their fast.

The state government also announced setting up of a special designated court and appointment of a Special Public Prosecutor to look into the police firing and the death of the three Dalits.

Besides, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani also declared Rs 2 lakh to each bereaved family as relief.

Incidentally, the Gujarat Crime Branch recently closed the case by filing what is called “c-summary” report, meaning no offence found against anyone in the case that was reported from the industrial town in Surendranagar district.

Three policemen were arrested in the case and released on bail. A police official has been on the run for the last four years.

No chargesheet has been filed so far in the case.

“In all atrocity cases, a chargesheet has to be filed in 60 days. It has been four years, but it has not yet been filed,” says Dalit activist and lawyer Jignesh Mewani, who has been at the forefront of the fight for justice to the Thangadh victims.

More than Una, this is one case which Dalit activists from across the state have been citing to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that his government at the Centre and earlier in Gujarat has been compassionate about Dalits.

It is the BJP and new Chief Minister Vijay Rupani government’s first announcement for the Dalits, which has come days after a huge rally in Una in support of their several demands, including action in the Thangadh case.

It comes also merely 48 hours ahead of yet another public meeting in state capital Gandhinagar on Monday organised specifically to seek justice in this case.

The rally has been organised by Dalit rights activists Manjula Pradeep, executive director of Navsarjan Trust, and Kirit Rathod.

Incidentally, a special two-day monsoon session of the assembly also begins on Monday.

However, the state government is yet to take a call on a key demand of the Dalits across the state to reveal the findings of senior IAS officer Sanjay Prasad, who had submitted his inquiry report to the then Narendra Modi government on May 1, 2013.

The activists believe the report is not being made public since it might contain names of senior officials for the “unjustified police firing and allowing use of AK-47 rifle” in the firing.

Officially, to an RTI application by activist Kirit Rathod, the government had said the report could not be made public since it “may harm the sovereignty and integrity of the country and incite hatred among sections of society”.

Saturday’s announcement follows a meeting between new Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Atmaram Parmar and Minister of State for Home Pradipsinh Jadeja.

Others present included former Social Justice minister Ramanlal Vora, who will take over as the new assembly Speaker and BJP Rajya Sabha MP Shambhuprasad Tundiya, considered among the Dalits as a religious leader with a religious seat in Zanzarka, Saurashtra region.

Meanwhile, Gujarat Anusuchit Jati Atyachar Sangharsh Samiti has declared that they will continue to apprise the Dalits of what happened during the negotiations with the government regarding their demands.

Kirit Rathod, one of the negotiators with the state government, said: “While some of our main demands have been met, we have also put forward some other demands, which haven’t been met. We wanted to share them with the participants in the rally.”



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