MOTA SAMADHIYALA, Gujarat -- Rahul Gandhi today met the family members of Dalits, who were thrashed while skinning a dead cow, and assured all possible help to the victims.
According to a kin of the victims, Gandhi, who spent around 40 minutes with the family members, said he is "ashamed" that such incidents are taking place in India.
Rahul, who was accompanied by Congress leaders Kumari Selja and Gurudas Kamat, also had tea with the family members of the victims in this remote village near Una town of Gir-Somnath district, where the incident took place on July 11.
"We narrated to him (Rahul) what happened with my cousins and uncle. He listened to us patiently and assured us all help so that we can get justice," Jitu Sarvaiya, a cousin of the victims, told reporters after Gandhi left.
"Rahulji said he feels ashamed that such incidents are still taking place in the country and gave his personal number to us to contact in case of any emergency," he said.
The Congress Vice President met Balubhai Sarvaiya and his family members, after landing at the nearby Union Territory of Diu. Seven of family members of Balubhai including him were beaten up in the incident.
"He (Rahul) also asked questions about issues and discrimination being faced by us in our village. We told them that still the practice of untouchability is prevalent here as we are made to stand away from others," Jitu, who is studying engineering at a college in Bhavnagar district, said.
"We demanded from him that those who were involved in the incident should be given exemplary punishment and kept behind bars for their entire life or else they will once again do this to someone else," he said.
"We also told him about police not coming to help us when cow activists were beating my cousin brothers," he said.
"We also told him that after the brutal beating for skinning of dead cows. Our family has decided to leave this business of leather....we will work as labourers but never get involved in this traditional business of ours," Jitu said.
"We also sought financial help describing the poor conditions of our family for education of our children so that in future they can have a standing of their own," he said.
Later, Rahul Gandhi left for Rajkot where the victims of flogging are undergoing treatment.
Gujarat Congress MLA Shailesh Parmar later said that Rahul will give Rs 5 lakh as aid to family of the victims.
The Dalit protests over the incident have spread to several parts of the state unleashing violence, in which a head constable was killed during stone-pelting in Amreli.
Besides, State Transport buses were attacked and more than 17 members of the community have allegedly attempted suicide so far.
The protest follows the brutal assault on fellow community members on July 11 for allegedly skinning a cow in Una town of Gir-Somnath district.
Sixteen persons have been arrested so far in connection with the assault on Dalits, while four policemen have been suspended for dereliction of duty.
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