Una Violence

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In July 2016, seven members of a Dalit family were attacked by member of higher castes on the pretext of cow protection. A part of the incident was captured on camera and widely circulated. The incident brought nationwide attention, and was condemned by a large section of civil society which saw it as a continuation of a trend of mob violence in the country. Statewide protests followed in the months after the incident. In 2018, two of the victims were again attacked by one of the accused out on bail.

Background[edit]

Cow vigilantism[edit]

In September 2015, Mohammed Akhlaq was lynched to death in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh by people who suspected that he had beef in his fridge.[1] In March 2016, Mustain Abbas was killed in Haryana while transporting newly purchased bullocks to use on his fields. His family said that the police was threatening them instead of helping them get justice[2] In the same month, two Muslim cattle traders including a 12-year-old boy were hanged from a tree in Latehar, Jharkhand by a group claiming to be cow protectors. The police had been ignoring several complaints from the Muslim community against local cow vigilante groups.[3] In June 2016, three people accused of transporting cows were thrashed by a mob of around 150 claiming to be gau rakshaks (cow protectors) in Rajasthan's Pratapgarh district.[4]

Una incident[edit]

On 11 July 2016, seven members of a Dalit family were skinning a dead cow in Mota Samadhiyala village of Una taluka. They had bought the carcass in Bediya village. At 10 AM, a white car passing by stopped next to them. Upper caste men alighted from it and asked the Dalits why they were slaughtering the cow. The Dalits explained that the cow was already dead, and that they were simply skinning it. Unsatisfied with the answer, the upper caste men proceeded to abuse and attack them with iron pipes, sticks and a knife. Four members of the Dalit family were put in the car and taken to Una town. At Una town, the upper caste men stripped the four Dalit men, paraded them on the streets and hit them. After some time, the polce arrived and the attackers fled the scene.[1][5][6][7][8]

The police booked complaint against those assailants under attempt to murder and sections of Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act. Three accused were arrested initially.[5][7]

Aftermath[edit]

Protests[edit]

July[edit]

The videos of trashing went viral on internet and sparked the protests.[5] On 12 July 2016, a huge protest rally was at first organized in Chandkheda area by various Dalit leaders like Tushar Parmar, Rajashree Kesri and many others in which more than 2000 dalits attended and clocked the state highway. 13 July 2016, hundreds on Dalits hold protest rally against the assault and later occupied Trikon Baug, the main square in Una for an hour. Two more accused were arrested bringing total to five.[7] On 21 July, the issue was discussed in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament. The protests spread across Saurashtra region. Twelve Dalits youth attempted suicide in protest across the region and one of them died. Twelve people including seven police personnel were injured in the protest and one of them died.[9]

The number of arrested increased to 16 by 22 July and the case was handed over to Crime Investigation Department crime branch (CID). Four police officers were also suspended.[10][11]

By 28 July 2016, 20 accused were arrested.[8]

August[edit]

Jignesh Mevani, an activist, led the protest march called Dalit Asmita Yatra from Ahmedabad to Una which culminated on 15 August 2016 which was attended by some 20,000 Dalits, including dalit women, who took a pledge to give up their traditional jobs of removing cow carcasses. He demanded the land for upliftment of Dalits.[12][13]

Government Response[edit]

Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel visited Mota Samadhiyala and promised that the victims would be given BPL cards, housing plots, five acre agricultural land and government jobs. However, in 2018, the BJP government told the Assembly that there was no record of the then Chief Minister Anandiben Patetel's promises. Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani, who had asked the question in the Assembly, accused the state government of reneging on its promise and held the government's position as reason why the Dalit community has no faith in the BJP government.[14]

Repeated attack[edit]

On 25 April, two of the victims were again attacked by one of the accused who was out on bail. They were returning from shopping in Una town in preparation for their conversion to Buddhism.[15]

Other incidents[edit]

In August 216, 10 Dalits were injured and vehicles were torched when a mob attacked Dalits returning form Una Town after attending a flag hoisting ceremony to mark the end their 10-day Azadi Kooch (freedom march).[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Dalit Family Stripped, Beaten As 'Gau Raksha' Vigilantism Continues". The Wire. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  2. ^ "Killed Allegedly By 'Cow Protectors', Justice Eludes the Family of Mustain Abbas". The Wire. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  3. ^ "Minorities Commission Sees 'Brazen Communal Bias' in Jharkhand Police Handling of Latehar Lynching". The Wire. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  4. ^ "Vigilantes in Rajasthan beat up trio of 'cow transporters', strip one". Hindustan Times. 2016-06-03. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  5. ^ a b c "4 Dalits stripped, beaten up for skinning dead cow". The Times of India. 13 July 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  6. ^ "Old enmity behind flogging of Dalit youths in Una: Fact-finding team". Hindustan Times. 22 July 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  7. ^ a b c "Dalits thrashed for skinning cow: Two accused arrested as protests continue in Una". The Indian Express. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Four Una Dalit Victims Who Were Earlier Discharged, Have Now Been Hospitalised Again". ScoopWhoop. 28 July 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Gujarat: Violence in Saurashtra kills policeman, Dalit youth commits suicide". The Indian Express. 19 July 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  10. ^ India (21 July 2016). "Politicians' 'loss of credibility' a big challenge, says Rajnath; Una Dalit attack case transferred to CID". The Indian Express. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Monsoon Session: Congress, Aam Aadmi Party stall parliament, protest against Una incident and Dalit atrocities". India.com. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  12. ^ Pathak, Maulik (2016-10-07). "We plan to take our fight to other parts of India: Jignesh Mevani". livemint.com/. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  13. ^ "The Leader Of The Fledgling Dalit Uprising In Gujarat Is Determined To Not Let It Die". Huffington Post India. 2016-08-04. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  14. ^ "Gujarat Assembly: Govt says no record of land and job promises made to Una Dalit victims". The Indian Express. 2018-03-21. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  15. ^ "Two Years Later, Una Flogging Incident Victims Attacked Again". The Wire. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  16. ^ "Dalits 'attacked' by mob near Una, Gujarat govt denies any violence". Hindustan Times. 2016-08-15. Retrieved 2018-09-22.