The husband of a Dalit sarpanch in Gujarat was beaten to death on Wednesday, the police said. Manjibhai Solanki was allegedly killed by about six men when he was riding a motorcycle on the Ranpur-Barvala Road in Botad district, PTI reported.
The 51-year-old man told his relatives before he died that a car hit his motorcycle, and then the assailants beat him up with rods and pipes. This “dying declaration” was recorded by his relatives when they were taking him to a hospital. Solanki died on the way to the hospital.
His wife, Geeta Solanki, is the sarpanch of Jalia village in Botad district. Manjibhai Solanki was a member of the panchayat and served informally as the deputy sarpanch, the police said.
“We have started the process of registering an FIR,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Rajdeepsinh Nakum said. “We will also take into account the dying declaration, which Solanki gave to his relatives.”
Solanki’s family claimed that they had repeatedly sought police protection citing differences with some people from the Kathi Darbar community, who they thought will harm them. But the Solankis did not get it. The family also alleged that Manjibhai Solanki had been attacked four times before this.
Botad Superintendent of Police Harshad Mehta said Manjibhai Solanki had made a representation to his office on June 6, The Indian Express reported. “As part of the due process, the police station concerned was undertaking a threat assessment,” he said.
“For the last 20 years, persons from my family are being elected sarpanch of the village,” Manjibhai’s son Tushar Solanki told the newspaper. “Presently, my mother Geeta is serving as sarpanch while my father was deputy sarpanch. There was a tussle between the Darbars and my father ever since 2010. The Darbars cannot stand the fact that Dalits get elected sarpanch.”