A Rambhakt Dalit family was assaulted because they entered a Ram Mandir at Ner village in Kutch district of Gujarat. “Dalits do not deserve to enter our Ramji’s mandir. Ram does not need Dalits”, the family was clearly told when they were assaulted by Upper caste and Hindus belonging to OBC category. The family was accompanied for Ram Darshan by a dozen policemen as they had been earlier threatened of violence. The family completed the darshan and thought it was a big moment in their lives that they could enter the local Ram Mandir.
However, within 30 minutes of the darshan and after the policemen had gone, the Dalit family was attacked by upper-caste Hindus of their village who believe that Dalits should know their place in the society and had no right to even look at the idol of their Ram Bhagwan. Six family members of Govind Vaghela are in the Bhuj Civil Hospital after being attacked by 20 people with pipes, axes and sickles. Two FIRs have been filed but even after 24 hours of the attack, no arrests have been made.
According to the police, Govind Vaghela, a Dalit, and his family had visited the temple on October 20. This had apparently enraged the local caste Hindus, who first damaged the standing crops on Mr. Vaghela’s farm. When he and his family members protested, they were reportedly assaulted.
As per the FIR, the accused were angry that Govind Vaghela and his family had visited the Ram temple at Ner village to offer prayers when a Prana Pratishtha ritual was underway.
Vaghela was at his provision shop, when he learnt that some persons had destroyed his standing crop by sending cattle into his field, the complaint stated. When the complainant and his uncle Ganesh Vaghela reached the spot, the accused attacked them with pipes, sticks and sharp weapons for visiting the temple, the police said.
As per the FIR, the accused had also allegedly stolen a mobile phone and damaged the complainant’s rickshaw.
The family had sought police protection from the local police. While the alleged incident took place on Tuesday (October 26) at Ner village under Bhachau police station, no arrests have been made so far, deputy superintendent of police Kishorsinh Zala said.
“Two FIRs were registered in this regard, one by Govind Vaghela and another by his father Jagabhai. The duo claimed that around 20 persons attacked them. We have formed eight teams to nab the culprits,” Zala said.
The case has been registered against a mob of 20 persons, including Kana Ahir, Rajesh Maharaj, Kesra Rabai, Paba Rabari and Kana Koli, on the charges of attempt to murder, dacoity, robbery, assault, and under relevant sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, it was stated.
The complainant has also alleged that the accused had attacked his mother Badhiben, father Jagabhai and two other relatives, and the six victims were treated at a general hospital in Bhuj.
In 2019, the Gujarat government revealed a 32% rise in crimes against Scheduled Castes between 2013 and 2017, and a 55% rise in crimes against Scheduled Tribes for the same period. Earlier in 2016, atrocities were committed on Dalits during the Una controversy where a few Dalits were allegedly tortured, in police presence, under the garb of cow protection.