Dalit activist’s immolation triggers protests in Gujarat

first_imgThe death of 60-year-old Dalit activist, Bhanubhai Vankar, who set himself ablaze outside the Collector’s office in Patan protesting the delay in allotment of land to a Dalit family, triggered protests in north Gujarat. Thousands of people came out to block highways in the region.State authorities cancelled dozens of buses on several routes.Angry mobs that gathered at Gandhinagar Civil Hospital booed BJP legislator and Dalit community leader Karsan Solanki, who came to meet the family members when Mr. Vankar’s body was brought for post mortem. Mr. Solanki was forced to leave the place.The family had refused to take the body after post mortem till its demands like allotment of land, suspension of officials who ignored Mr. Vankar’s repeated pleas and the constitution of an SIT to probe his death were accepted. A PTI report late in the evening said the Gujarat government had accepted the demands.“This is not suicide, this is murder. This government forces Dalits to take the extreme step,” prominent Dalit activist and independent legislator Jignesh Mevani said. The community members would fight to get justice for Mr. Vankar’s family, he said.Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel also visited the family members and supporters of Mr. Vankar at the hospital.Mr. Vankar, a resident of Unjha town of Mehsana district, was an active member of the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, led by Mr. Mevani. After he attempted self-immolation in front of the district collector’s office, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had said chief secretary J.N. Singh would conduct an inquiry and that appropriate action would be taken.Mr. Vankar had taken up the cause of a Dalit family living in Dudkha village in Patan district after the district administration delayed regularisation of the piece of land the family was allotted. Hemaben Vankar, a landless Dalit farm labourer, had alleged that the authorities were refusing to regularise the piece of land despite collecting ₹22,236 in 2013 for the transfer.In a memorandum submitted to the Collector a week ago, Hemaben, along with Bhanubhai Vankar, had threatened self-immolation if their case was not cleared. However, the administration apparently did not take the threat seriously.Though police were deployed outside the Patan Collector’s office and several Dalit activists were detained, Bhanubhai Vankar managed to set himself on fire. He succumbed to injuries at a hospital late on Thursday night.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *