Una row: 3 Dalits attempt suicide; situation largely peaceful
Ahmedabad, Jul 22: Three more Dalit youths allegedly attempted suicide today in Botad district of Gujarat even as the situation in most parts of the state returned to normalcy after witnessing three days of violent protests by community members over beating of Dalits for allegedly skinning a dead cow in Gir Somnath.
At Ranpur village of Botad district, three youths attempted suicide by drinking poisonous substance, to protest the Una incident, police said.
"Villagers informed police that three youths from the same village had tried to commit suicide to protest the Una incident after which they were taken to nearby hospital and then referred to Bhavnagar hospital for treatment," Botad Superintendent of Police, Saroj Kumari said.
As the news of the suicide attempt spread, hundreds of Dalits gathered at the hospital to show solidarity with the cause, Kumari said. So far, more than 20 youths have attempted suicide during the ongoing protest.
Members of Congress party blocked a national highway in Vadodara by burning tyres that caused traffic jam. Police managed to clear the road and detained five persons in this connection.
Protest rallies were taken out in some parts of Ahmedabad district and Patan, as Dalits in Ahmedabad's Viramgam came out in hundreds and submitted memorandum to local administration demanding justice. A protest march was carried out in Patan as well.
While in Modasa in Arvalli district, markets continued to remain closed for the second day as local businessmen protested damages done to their shops and establishments by Dalits during the ongoing agitation.
Businessmen demanded action against vandals who damaged several shops causing loss of property. District administration in Gir Somnath--where Mota Saladhiyala village is located--imposed Section 144, which prohibits gathering of more than four persons, to avoid any untoward incident by preventing gathering of people to protest.
"We imposed Section 144 last evening which will remain effective till July 31, in order to keep the situation under control," Collector Ajay Kumar said.
For at least three days, protests against brutal thrashing of Dalit youths at Una, allegedly by some self-styled cow vigilantes, flared up with incidents of vandalism and arson being reported from several parts of the state.
Nearly half a dozen of state transport buses were damaged while scores of youths attempted suicide. Stone pelting and damages to shops were also reported during these three days.
16 people have been arrested so far in connection with the assault on Dalits, while four policemen have been suspended for dereliction of duty.
Since the time of eruption of protests, 20 Dalit youths have tried to commit suicide in separate incidents across the state. A head constable in Amreli, Pankaj Amreliya, died after protesters clashed with police.