16 members of the Dalit community, including local Congress leader Anil Madhad, attempted suicide in Saurashtra on Monday and Tuesday as a form of protest after four men from the community were beaten up for skinning a dead cow near Una town on July 11, reported The Hindu. Several suicide attempts were reported on Tuesday from Junagadh, Gondal, Kesod and Ahmedabad. According to local news agency Sandesh, one Hemant Bhika Solanki died after drinking poison in Khambaliya village, Bhesan.
Protestors set two state transport buses on fire in Gondal and blocked a national highway for several hours. During a protest rally in Surendranagar, a group also dumped carcasses in the local Collector’s office. Clashes between protestors and the police were reported from Amreli district as well.
On Twitter, Congress leader Ahmed Patel said, "People who have faced violence need to be given justice. Failure of authorities to protect Dalits in Gujarat is absolutely shocking. Is it the Gujarat Model? Independent probe is the need of the hour."
The Gujarat government has suspended four police officers for negligence, and ordered a Criminal Investigation Department probe into the matter. Chief Minister Anandiben Patel said a court will be set up to expedite the trial and a charge sheet will be submitted within 60 days. The state police have arrested a total of nine people in connection with the assault incident.
The victims were skinning a dead cow they had bought, when around six men intervened and started asking them how and where they got it. They accused the Dalits of killing the animal and started thrashing them.
The assault was caught on camera and went viral when one of the accused uploaded it, cautioning people against killing bovine creatures unless they want to meet the same fate. The video showed several men stripping the victims, tying them to an SUV and beating them up with iron pipes and sticks.
The accused, who belong to a local cow protection committee, then took the four men to a nearby village and assaulted them further before taking them to Una town, 24 km from the spot. Police Inspector NU Zala said the men stopped their vehicle on their way and thrashed the victims in the middle of the road. Three people who tried to stop them were also beaten up.