Six relatives of the Dalit tanners who were beaten up in Gujarat’s Una district last month were attacked on Monday after attending the rally organised by the Una Dalit Fight against Atrocities Committee earlier in the day. The family of six told Scroll.in that they were set upon by a huge mob on the highway near Samter village, located 12 km from Una. They were on their way to Mota Samadhiyala , where the four tanners live.
One of the members of the family, Meena Sarvaiya, said, “While we were crossing Samter, a huge mob of hundreds of people approached our car from the front, carrying swords, sticks and bottles of kerosense. They surrounded us and smashed the windows.” The family claimed that several police vehicles were patrolling the highway at the time, but no one came to their rescue. They sustained injuries from the broken glass.
They had to reverse the car for nearly one kilometre to escape the mob, they added. They returned to Una, where they were treated for their injuries, and then went to the local police station. They claim the police have been uncooperative, but they are determined not to leave the station till a First Information Report is filed. This is the same police station near which the four tanners were beaten up on July 11.
According to locals, stone pelting incidents have been reported from Samter village for the past two days, though it is unclear why the violence there began. Some said several residents of Samter belong to the same community as those who beat up the tanners. The unrest has meant that the road leading out of Una has been blocked. Dalit protestors have since created a counter-block on the same road, effectively cutting off Una from other parts of the state. However, the leaders of the morning rally, which was attended by thousands of Dalits from around the state, appeared to have left the scene.
The local police have refused to comment. However, one official told Scroll.in that three cases of stone-pelting have been filed at Samter, and two other villages nearby called Rameshwar Patiya and Nandrak. No arrests have been made so far.