Post Una rally, Gujarat govt forms SIT to probe Thangadh firing on Dalits

Ahmedabad : Four years after three Dalit youths were killed in a firing incident at Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat, the state government has decided to form a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the case.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani decided to form the SIT after receiving several representations from Dalit leaders requesting the same, a government release said on Saturday. “Chief Minister Vijay Rupani took the decision following representations from Dalit leaders including cabinet minister Atmaram Parmar, former minister Ramanlal Vora, and Rajya Sabha MP Shambhuprasad Tundiya,” the release said quoting Minister of State for Home Pradipsinh Jadeja.

The government has also decided to form a special designated court and appoint a special public prosecutor to expedite the case, it said. It also announced an additional Rs 2 lakh compensation to the nearest kin of each of the victims over and above what was decided earlier.

The issue of Thangadh Police firing came in focus after the Una town Dalit flogging incident. In a rally held by Una Dalit Atyachar Padkar Samiti, which organised a march from Ahmedabad to Una, Dalits leaders have demanded justice for victims of Thangadh firing. Family members of victims of Thangadh were also sitting on hunger strike in Gandhinagar, demanding judicial probe in the incident.

Rajkot city police commissioner Anupam Singh Gehlot, Surat city DCP Zone -2, Parikshita Rathod, and Porbandar Superintendent of Police Tarun Kumar Duggal will be members of the SIT, the release said.

On the intervening night of September 22-23, 2012, three Dalit youths–Pankaj Sumra, Prakash Parmar and Mehul Rathod–were killed when police opened fire to disperse a violent mob to control a clash between Dalits and OBC Bharwad community members at Thangadh town in Surendranagar district. The government had earlier ordered a probe into the incident and a report was submitted to it by the then principal secretary of social justice and empowerment department, Sanjay Prasad. The report has not yet been made public.

Later, the State CID investigation into the matter also remained inconclusive after the state probe agency filed a C-summary report. No chargesheet has been filed yet into the incident.

Thangadh is around 65 kms from Rajkot, and is famous for the annual Tarnetar fair which is held eight kms from Thangadh town near the temple of Trinetwshar Shiva temple. Seven members of Dalit community from Mota Samadhiyala village of Una tehsil of Gir Somnath district were brutally assaulted by some self-styled cow vigilantes for skinning a dead cow on July 11.

The incident sparked wide-spread protests after videos of the beating went public. Several political leaders like Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and BSP supremo Mayawati had visited the families of the victims.