Gujarat: Dalit activist who set himself on fire dies

Ahmedabad: Dalit activist Bhanubhai Vankar, who set himself on fire outside the Patan Collector’s office over alleged delay in allotment of land to a Dalit family, succumbed during treatment tonight.

Earlier in the day, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had ordered an inquiry into the self-immolation bid.

“Bhanubhai, who had over 80 per cent burns, died during treatment at a private hospital here,” Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch co-convener Subodh Parmar said.

Bhanubhai Vankar, resident of Unjha town of Mehsana district, was an active member of the Manch, led by Dalit leader and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani.

Sixty-year-old Bhanubhai Vankar, who set himself on fire outside Patan district Collectors office yesterday, had been admitted to a private hospital here.

Rupani had earlier said chief secretary J N Singh would conduct inquiry into the incident, and appropriate action would be taken. He had also stated that the government will bear all expenses of Vankar’s treatment.

Bhanubhai Vankar had taken up the cause of a Dalit family living in Dudkha village of Sami tehsil of Patan district.

Village resident Hemaben Vankar, a landless Dalit farm labourer, had alleged that the authorities were not allotting a piece of land to her family despite collecting Rs 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.

Though police were deployed outside the Patan Collector’s office and several Dalit activists were detained, Bhanubhai Vankar somehow managed to set himself on fire.

Mevani had lashed out at the government after the incident and demanded suspension of the collector and superintendent of police.

With inputs from PTI