The dead cow in the centre of a storm of protest over the brutal assault by 'gau rakshaks' on seven Dalit men who were found skinning the bovine was killed by a lion, a Gujarat CID (Crime) team has found, the Indian Express reported.
The incident at the Mota Samadhilya village of Gir Somnath triggered mass protests across the state against atrocities on Dalits who are often soft targets by self-appointed Hindu vigilantes groups looking to enforce cow protection by the rod. Dalits communities, often burdened with the task of clearing carcasses of dead animals, dumped stinking animal corpses at government offices in protest and asked the 'Gau Rakshaks' to clean up the mess.
According to the report, the father of Vasarambhai Balubhai Sarvaiya, one of the Dalit victims of flogging, told the Indian Express that he got a call around 8 am from one Najabhai Ahir of Bediya village saying that a lion had killed his cow and he needed someone to dispose of the carcass.
Police Mute Spectators
When Vasaram, his brother Ramesh, cousin Ashok and relative Becharbhai picked up the carcass and began skinning it around 2 km from their village, a group of 30-35 men in motor cycles turned up and began abusing them. Soon they started assaulting the Dalits and left Balu, who rushed to the spot to save his sons, unconscious.
The CID is investigating who informed the gau rakshaks about the cow being skinned and who recorded the video of the men being flogged.
Keshavji Saradava, Deputy Superintendent of Police, CID (Crime), told the paper that it was established that Ahir's cow was killed by a lion.
One policeman was suspended for allowing the gau rakshaks to leave after they dumped the Dalit men outside the Una police station. Meanwhile, a fact finding team that visited Una claimed to have found a new trend among so-called 'cow vigilantes' who show their bravado by using the Dalit community as a "soft target".
Dalits Are Soft Targets
An eight-member fact finding team, with Dalits from various city-based NGOs including the Dalit Adhikar Manch, found that the alleged beating started from 9:30 AM and continued unabated till 1:30 PM. Despite the victims' kin repeatedly calling the police, PTI reported.
The team members said Dalits are "soft targets" for these vigilante groups. Dalits are actually not involved in the slaughter of cows, but are only doing their traditional business of leather, while they (vigilante groups) refrain from confronting those involved in the slaughter, they said.
There is a particular Dalit community that deals in the trade of leather.
In Gir Somnath and the surrounding districts of Gujarat, these self-appointed cow protection committees have come up in the name of saving cows, said Kaushik Parmar, who led the fact finding team to the village.
"We have found out that this inhuman incident of beating Dalit youths was not one off. From last many months these particular community members have become the target of these cow protection groups," Parmar said.
"There have been at least three such incidents in the past two months in the area when the Dalit community members were beaten up by these so-called cow vigilante groups. All those are related to skinning of dead cows," he said.
Dalit Writer To Return Award
Amrut Makwana, a Dalit writer in Gujarat, has said he would return his prize money of Rs 25,000 the state government awarded him in 2014.
"As a people's writer, I felt the pain which is the life element of Dalit literature and decided to return the honour which now I feel is a blot on the walls of my house because it was given to me by a government which has no sympathy for Dalits," Makwana told The Telegraph.
(With PTI inputs)