Family of nine butchered over land dispute
R K Misra/Gandhinagar
In a gruesome act nine people belonging to one family were butchered and 15 injured in a clash over land involving two groups in Kutch on Wednesday.
The injured were rushed to Rapar Hospital and therefrom to Rajkot. Though initial reports spoke of a group clash involving the Gadhvi and Koli community, both Hindus, subsequent accounts have confirmed it to be almost a one-sided affair.
All the nine killed belonging to the Gadhvi community are from one family and hail from Rav village while the Kolis belong to Surmavandh village.
According to Border Range DIG, A K Singh who rushed to the spot and is camping there, groups belonging to the Gadhvi and Koli community had been feuding over the ownership of land in Surmavandh village, 15 kms from the taluka headquarters of Rapar in Kutch district.
The dispute had resulted in litigation and the court was possessed of the matter. However, things came to a head on Wednesday around noon and fire arms, dharias, swords were freely used in the group clash that took place around afternoon.
Singh said that all the nine people killed in the clash belonged to the Gadhvi community while the injured belong to the Koli community. "The bodies of all the killed bore gunshot wounds. These were apparently caused by muzzleloader weapons," Singh added.
A senior journalist from Bhuj who visited the scene of the offence said that all the nine bodies lay in a 200-metre area in Surmavand village, located about 15 kms from the taluka headquarters of Rapar in Kutch district.
Not content with gunning them down, the aggressive Koli mob seemed to have then gone to work on the injured and dying with sharp-edged dharias, sticks and swords. This surmise has been drawn from the state the bodies were found in. Some had their limbs hacked off, others their arms dismembered while the heads of some others lay smashed beyond recognition.
"It was a gruesome sight," the journalist said. First reports say that the injured were rushed to Bhachau and from there on to Rajkot Civil Hospital.
While group clashes over land are a fairly common occurrence in Saurashtra region, this is the first time that dispute over land in largely barren Kutch has resulted in such heavy casualties.
The genesis of the violence that took such a ghastly toll lay in land, about 250 acres of it, which had been leased out to the Kolis. The lease period had expired and the Gadhvi family wanted the land back. The Kolis were not inclined to return it.
There was an attempt at sorting out matters through mediation, but it had failed to bear fruit. Since it had rained, the Gadhvi family decided to takeover the land to begin cultivating it. Twelve of them, all belonging to a single extended family had reportedly gone to the spot. They were reported to be carrying sticks, lathis at best. An altercation followed whereupon the Kolis whose hamlets were nearby outnumbered the Gadhvis and reportedly brutalised them.
Among those killed were five brothers and four nephews. Three other relatives who had accompanied them, however managed to escape.
Police sources in Kutch said that the one-sided nature of fatalities also indicated that the Gadhvis had been caught unprepared by the severity of the assault.
7 killed in caste clash
The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Seven persons were killed in a caste clash at Surba Vandh village in Kutch district on Wednesday afternoon, reports reaching here said. The clash took place at around 1 pm over a disputed piece of land.
Fifteen persons were injured in the incident at the village , located about 30 km from the town of Rapar which was devastated in the January 26 earthquake. Home secretary S Nityanandam said "we are trying to get more details on the incident, we have just received the first report so far which is quite sketchy".
Officials in Kutch said the clash was between two castes- Kolis and Gadhvis - over a piece of land . The village is located close to the Hindu pilgrim centre of Ravechi. The injured have been admitted to the Rapar referral hospital. Further details are awaited.