Virtually absolving cow vigilantes of atrocities against Dalits, the Gujarat government in a report submitted to the Central government has concluded that the attack on Dalits in Una taluka of Gir-Somnath district was the outcome of a rivalry among villagers over a plot of land on which the community skinned dead cattle for generations.
The report that has been submitted to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment attempts to convince the Centre that the village panchayat, which is currently headed by members of the Patel community, were eyeing the land, where Balu Sarvaiya — the father of two of the four Dalit youths who were flogged by cow vigilantes onJuly 11 —his family, and other members of the community carried out the business of skinning dead cattle.
The land was allotted to the Sarvaiyas some three generations ago at a time when the village panchayat was headed by some influential member of the Dalit community. However, with the change in panchayat regime, the members wanted control over this land. Though the panchayat offered another piece of land at a farther location, Sarvaiya refused it, the report stated.
“The issue had been simmering for a while. On that particular day, villagers found a favourable situation and carried out the attack,” a Gujarat official said, requesting anonymity. The officer went on to add that land being a prime commodity, the problem is confined not just to one village but across the state.
Seven members of the Dalit community were thrashed by cow vigilantes in July for skinning dead cows. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has identified Gir Somnath as one of the three districts where the Dalit community is deemed the most vulnerable.
Dalit leaders point out that the state, in its report to the Centre, has downplayed the issue as a controversy over land and denied the fact that it is a case of atrocity towards Dalit, carried on by cow vigilantes.
The skinners, however, call this a false propaganda. “We have been working on the land for generations, now these gau rakshaks want us to disrupt our trade. They have been threatening us,” said Sarvaiya Kanti who escaped the July flogging.
Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar, who has been carrying on the fight in the state for the past one and a half month, calls it a baseless allegation and false report. “Dalits have been at the receiving end and the state is just trying to protect gau rakshaks,” he said.
Ambedkar has been organising rallies and meetings across the state, urging people to vote out the BJP in the upcoming Assembly elections. “We have passed a resolution. A major rally is planned in Delhi on September 16 to protest against atrocities against Dalits,” said Ambedkar.
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