Rajkot/Udaipur: Dalit protests in Gujarat spread to several parts of the state including Ahmedabad on Tuesday unleashing violence in which a head constable was killed in stone pelting and state transport buses attacked while three more members of the community allegedly attempted suicide.
The dalits are protesting against the brutal assault on fellow community members on July 11 for allegedly skinning a cow in Una in Gir-Somnath district.
"Head Constable with local crime branch Pankaj Amreli was injured in stone-pelting in Amreli town. He died during treatment at Rajkot hospital. Ten other persons including protestrs and policemen have been injured," police said.
Today, three youths attempted to kill themselves by consuming poison at their residential society in Batwa town in Junagadh district, police said.
After seven Dalit youths attempted suicide at Gondal and Jamkandorna in Rajkot district against the assault yesterday, several incidents of damage to state transport buses and road blockades were reported from different parts of Saurashtra region across Junagadh, Jamnagar, Rajkot and Amreli districts since late last night. The protests also spread to Ahmedabad, where dozens of Dalits were detained, police said.
While a bus was torched in Dhoraji town of Rajkot district and several others damaged, protestors allegedly vandalised sheds for Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in Rajkot late last night, police said.
"Dinesh Parmar (21), Dinesh Vegra (23) and Rasik Vinjura (40) gathered at Ambedkar Nagar society and consumed poison to protest against the beating (of Dalit youths in Una). We rushed them to Junagadh civil hospital for treatment," police said, adding their condition is stable.
Hundreds of protesters gathered at Chital road locality in Amreli town this morning and started hurling stones at police who in turn fired two teargas shells to disperse them.
In Surendranagar, agitators blocked a highway by putting carcass of a cow in the middle of the road, police said.
In the wake of the tense situation, the state road transport department today suspended bus services from Porbandar and other parts as protesters continued to block roads.
Some persons hurled stones at Ahmedabad-Veraval train as it was entering Rajkot, injuring an assistant driver last night, police said. "There was a report of BRTS buses being ransacked by the community members and several public transport vehicles also being ransacked," DCP, Rajkot, Karanraj Vaghela said.
He said situation is under control and no untoward incident has taken place in Rajkot today.
The opposition Congress demanded a probe by a sitting High Court judge into the Una incident.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel tweeted, "Failure of authorities to protect Dalits in Gujarat is absolutely shocking. Is it the Gujarat model? Independent probe is need of the hour".
Nine persons have been arrested so far in connection with the assault on Dalits, while three policemen have been suspended for dereliction of duty.
Gujarat's Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel backed Dalits. Patel, who is in Udaipur after his release from jail, said that Dalits have faced exploitation and their demands are justified.
Targeting Gujarat Police, Patel said the police worked at the behest of the state government and had exploited the Patel community earlier.
Patel, who was released from jail in Gujarat after nine months in confinement, has to stay outside Gujarat for six months as per the Gujarat High Court direction and he has been staying at a former Congress MLA's place in Udaipur....