Police ‘atrocities’ on Dalits: HC reserves order

The Gujarat High Court Thursday reserved its order on suo motu proceeding initiated in the alleged atrocities against Dalits of the Rajkot city by the local police last year.

A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala had initiated the proceeding while considering a letter from a human rights organisation about the alleged incident that was reported on June 25, 2012.

According to the details, Gunvant Rathod, a Dalit leader from Rajkot, was killed by some non-Dalits on June 24 last year. The next day, after Rathod's cremation, some Dalits held a rally protesting the murder and demanding arrests of the culprits. According to the complaint letter, the police resorted to lathicharge on the protesters without any provocation.

The police also allegedly entered the houses of Dalits at Ambedkarnagar and beat them up. Those beaten up allegedly included children and women. A 16-year-old girl was allegedly kicked by the police following which she sustained serious spinal injury threatening to cause permanent disability.

The incident of atrocities was reported to police but no action was taken against the responsible officers, it has been alleged. The injured girl was shifted from Rajkot to Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, where authorities registered a medico-legal case and informed the Rajkot police. The police, however, allegedly did not register her statement.

Following this, Dr Jayanti Mankadiya and another person wrote to the Chief Justice about the police atrocities and sought his intervention. The letter was enclosed with photographs and a video CD on the alleged police atrocities.

Chief Justice Bhattacharya referred Mankadiya's letter to Justice Akil Kureshi to give his opinion if it was a fit case to take suo-motu congnisance. Justice Kureshi gave his nod for the same while ordering appointment of senior advocate of HC Shalin Mehta as amicus-curaie.

Today, the state government opposed the proceedings. Government Pleader Prakash Jani argued that the proceedings were not maintainable and that the victims had already set the criminal machinery in motion. He also argued that the police was discharging its duty to control the crowd.

Mehta argued and supported the proceedings and added that the CD containing video of police atrocities established culpability of police officers.

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