The tragedy followed a clash between Dalits and members of Bharwad community over auctioning of stalls at an annual fair organised by the Than municipality. A Dalit youth was allegedly beaten up by the Bharwads on Friday after which the Dalits filed a complaint against them with the Than police station.
The following night, the two groups clashed again near the police station, according to Superintendent of Police Raghvendra Vats.
He said that soon the police intervened, following which the Dalits allegedly clashed with them. During the clash, sub-inspector K P Jadeja allegedly opened fire, injuring 17-year-old Prakash Amarsinh. The youth died at the Rajkot Civil Hospital.
There were just four or five policemen present during this incident, Vats added.
The SP said the two groups clashed with each other again on Sunday afternoon and when the police reached the spot, they allegedly pelted stones at them. The policemen again opened fire at the mob, killing two Dalit youths -- Mehul (16) and Prakash (24) -- and injuring one. The condition of injured Chhana Mauji Vaniya is said to be critical.Witnesses said Prakash was shot thrice.
According to Valjibhai Patel, a local activist, the situation remained tense in the town till late on Sunday as the Dalits refused to take the bodies and demanded stern action against sub-inspector Jadeja.
Rajkot Range IG Praveen Sinha said that hundreds of community leaders had converged at the Rajkot Circuit House and police were trying to pacify the angry Dalits.
In-charge DGP Chittaranjan Singh said that CID (crime) DIG R V Jotangia has been asked to investigate the incident. "He will probe if there was any negligence on the part of police and if it is proved, action will be taken against them," said Singh.
While state Social Justice Minister Fakirbhai Vaghela he would be visiting the town, an inquiry has been initiated by the social welfare department under its secretary Sanjay Prasad, said sources in the government.
The government is suspecting 'overreaction' on the part of police. District Congress spokesperson Naushad Solanki blamed the police for the incident. He said Than Municipality chief Vasram Chavda, a Dalit, had complained against SI Jadeja allegedly for being anti-Dalit and had even staged protest against him. Subsequently, Jadeja was transferred last week, but he was yet to be relieved.
District Collector Pradeep Shah, however, said it was not a case of atrocity "but rather a law and order problem".
This comes on a day when Chief Minister Narendra Modi was touring the district as part of his Swami Vivekanand Yuva Vikas Yatra.
The incident also affected railway traffic between Rajkot and Ahmedabad, which passes through Than, for several hours.
"We don't have homes here. They have dumped us in a wasteland in Vatva. It stinks. There is no electricity, no water, no school, and no health facility. There are murders every week and no policeman comes. We have to come back here everyday in search of work. We spend Rs100 a day on transport, and three hours on commuting. Bus-stand is solitary and when we get home at night, we are terrified of getting robbed or killed.
For the last several years, Modi has been successful in projecting his "vibrant Gujarat" as a role model of economic growth and himself as ''Vikas Purush". Though one must give due credit to Modi for his effective skills in making projections, one must also critically analyse this "growth story of Gujarat" based on facts and figures. Regretfully, as one examines the facts since Modi came to power in Gujarat in 2001, the story appears to be hollow and, at times, contrary to what is being projected.
How can Modi and his followers could forget that there is no no development in rural and tribal areas of Gujarat? Modi has hired PR agencies to project himself as man of development and one who can become the PM but the reality on grass root is totally different. Modi has allowed industrialist to loot Gujarat and if he becomes PM, he will let entire world to loot India...
The whole world knows that Modi can not become the PM, he and bjp are doing this drama of Modi being the PM is not to become the PM but to sustain as CM....shame on him
First Modi must answer where are the missing children of Gujarat...he must answer what happened in 2002, he must answer who killed Haren Pandya, he must answer that why no Lokayukta in Gujarat, he must answer what CAG report says about his corrupt...before the even think to be PM
Once again how Modi regime is trigger happy is proved by shooting as the policemen again opened fire at the mob, killing two Dalit youths -- Mehul (16) and Prakash (24) -- and injuring one. The condition of injured Chhana Mauji Vaniya is said to be critical.Witnesses said Prakash was shot thrice. The statement of District Collector Pradeep Shah that it was not a case of atrocity "but rather a law and order problem". ( with the minors?). Even the news items have heading such as " CM trained guns against PM" .