Dalit burnt to death in Bhavnagar
The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Close on the heels of the Surbha Vandh massacre in Rapar taluka of Kutch, a Dalit was burnt alive by an irate mob from a rival community at Kasan village in Mahuva taluka of Bhavnagar on Thursday night. According to police, Premji Valabhai Bhadraka (47) was burnt alive in the toilet of his house by some 20 people from his village, most of them belonged to the Ahir community.
Interestingly, this incident coincides with the visit of National Human Rights Commission chairman Justice J S Verma to the state. While the police claim that the victim was a notorious criminal who has faced externment in 1999, sources reveal that Premji and his family were victimised because theirs was the only Dalit house in the village.
Cases of murder have been booked against Haja Devayat Ahir, Kalu Devayat Ahir and 15 to 20 other unknown persons at the Bagdana police station after a complaint was lodged by the victim's wife, Hiraben. Police sources told TOI on Friday that the incident took place when Premji was walking down from the paan shop near the bus stand to his house. "When he reached a public tap on his way, the mob emerged with lethal weapons and iron rods, and beat him up along with his wife. And when Premji ran from the spot, they chased him upto his house," the police said.
A petrified Premji locked himself up in the toilet, but the furious mob broke the roof of the toilet, and doused him with edible oil and kerosene - picked from his house - before setting him ablaze in front of his wife. Premji died on the spot. The incident took place at around 9.15 pm on Thursday in Kasan village. Special IGP of the Junagadh range H P Singh and district superintendent of police J K Bhatt immediately rushed to Kasan village. No arrests were reported till Friday evening. When contacted, Dy SP H B Barot (administration) told TOI that Premji had been externed in 1999 and was a notorious criminal. "He has been threatening people in the village, was also booked under the Arms Act and already has two cases registered against him," he added.
The Kasan village, comprising some 2,000 residents, is dominated by Ahirs (cattle-rearers) followed by the Satwada and Khadak castes. Only recently, some nine persons from the Gadhvi community were killed over a land feud in Surbha Vandh by the Kolis, which had raised the hackles of the state government.