Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi visited Una in Gujarat’s Gir-Somnath district which has been on the boil since the stripping and flogging of Dalit men by self-appointed cow protection vigilantes last week.
Mr. Gandhi, sitting on a charpoy, offered a sympathetic ear and assured all possible help to the family of the man, severely injured after being thrashed in Una, 360 km from Ahmedabad. “He told us that he would do everything possible to help us. I said I don’t want to work as a tannery worker and want help educating my family,” the victim’s brother said.
“Told Rahul ji everything, how we were all beaten up. He said they will do everything in their power to get us justice,” said one of the victims.
“Rahul Gandhi is a thinker. He has been there wherever there have been atrocities on Dalits. I hope Rahul ji will understand their problems,” Gujarat Congress leader Chandrakant Shrivastav said.
“Why would we leave this village? People who hurt us should leave,” he said.
Earlier, a fact-finding team had claimed that the youths who were accused of cow slaughter were brutally beaten up for several hours but police failed to act.
It said Dalits are not involved in cow slaughter but made ”soft targets”.
On Wednesday, there was a near total bandh in Gujarat called by Dalit groups as protesters took to the streets, downing shutters, attacking public transport and halting trains and vehicle traffic. Chief Minister Anandiben Patel also met the victims on Wednesday, but it did little to help calming the protesters.
Seven youths of the Dalit community were beaten up last week by some people claiming to be ‘gau rakshaks’ (cow protectors) when they were reportedly skinning a dead cow in Mota Samadhiyala village.