New Delhi: With Gujarat on the boil following the assault on a group of Dalits for allegedly skinning the flesh of a dead cow in the state's Una district, Union Home minister Rajnath Singh today condemned the incident and said adequate action has been taken in the matter.
Singh said that nine persons have been arrested in connection with the incident; seven have been remanded to judicial custody while two were sent to police custody.
"Atrocity against Dalits is a social evil. We must take it up as a challenge. I urge all parties to come together to fight this," Rajnath Singh said while making a statement on the Una attack in the Lok Sabha.
Rajnath said PM Narendra Modi condemned the attack as soon as he got to know about the incident.
The Home minister, however, said that there has been a sharp decline in attacks on Dalits in Gujarat since the BJP came to power in the state. "During Congress rule in Gujarat, number of cases of atrocities against Dalits were much higher," Singh said, only to be immediately countered by opposition parties.
The situation on the ground though, remains tense. Several incidents of stone-pelting and road blockades were reported from many parts of Gujarat on Tuesday. The attacks on buses led to the cancellation of transport services in Saurashtra.
Official said that local bus services such as the BRTS were also affected due to stone-pelting in Malavianagar and Puneetnagar areas of Rajkot city. A local bus was damaged by protesters in Chandkheda region of Ahmedabad.
Besides the fact that this was not the opportune moment for the government to pat its own back, the opposition benches rose up in protest when the Home minister went on congratulate the Gujarat government for its prompt action in the matter.
Meanwhile, other parties too are looking at the issue with a political eye. Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress, Narendra Modi’s fiercest opponents, are all set to make political capital out of it.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is set to visit Gujarat on Friday, his second visit in a fortnight, to meet the members of the Dalit community. On the other hand, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is also scheduled to visit Una on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Congress today targeted the RSS and BJP in Lok Sabha, saying the Hindutva organisation was working for "Dalit-mukt Bharat" which was "sponsored" by BJP to polarise communities ahead of next year's assembly polls there.
Virtually the entire opposition in Lok Sabha led by the Congress on Wednesday protested the attacks on Dalits in Gujarat by raising slogans against the government during Question Hour.
Members of Congress, the Left parties, Nationalist Congress Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Trinamool Congress were seen raising slogans. While most opposition members were standing near their benches, members from Congress were in the Well raising slogans like ‘daliton pe atyachar band karo’ (stop atrocities on Dalits), ‘Gujarat model shame shame’ and ‘sarkar jawab do’ (the government must answer).
Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel met family members of victims
Meanwhile, Gujarat Chief minister Anandiben Patel today visited Una town and met the victims and the family members.
The chief minister assured them that the government has taken all measures to ensure that the victims get justice.
"The scene of beating of Dalits will be disturbing to anyone who witnesses it. The beating, in the manner it took place, is not becoming of any civilised society. The state government has done everything possible, including arrest of the accused, and (facilitating) hospitalisation of the injured," Patel said after the meeting.
The incident had come to light after a purported video showing some persons, believed to be 'gau-rakshaks', publicly beating four partially-stripped Dalit youths at Una town of Gir-Somnath district on 11 July, had gone viral.