A Dalit lawyer and activist in Gujarat’s Kutch district was on Friday killed by a man from Mumbai, allegedly over his social media posts criticising Brahminism, The Indian Express reported. The accused and five other suspects were arrested on Saturday.
The lawyer, Devji Maheshwari, was a senior member of the Indian Legal Professionals Association and the All India Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation.
An unidentified Crime Branch official in Mumbai told the newspaper that the accused, identified only as Raval, had threatened Maheshwari in the past too. They both belonged to Rapar town in Kutch. “Maheshwari wrote and shared posts critical of Brahminism on his Facebook page,” the official said. “Raval disagreed with those views and warned Maheshwari on several occasions to refrain from writing such posts publicly.”
Maheshwari’s last post on Facebook post was a video of Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation National President Waman Meshram saying that members of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes were not Hindus.
The police said that the accused, who works at a stationary shop in Mumbai’s Malad suburb, travelled to Rapar on Wednesday. CCTV footage of the incident on Friday showed Raval following Maheshwari into his office building and running out just seconds later. He was stabbed to death, according to The Hindu.
The accused was charged for murder and criminal conspiracy and under sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. He was arrested by a team of the Gujarat Police. The police named nine other people in the first information report too and arrested five of them. The others are still missing.
The lawyer’s killing sparked tensions in Rapar town as members of the Dalit community demanded action against the suspects. Maheshwari’s family named nine suspects and refused to accept his body till all of them were arrested.
Inspector General of Police (Border Range) J R Mothaliya said that the motive behind the murder is yet to be established. Local Dalit activists and the lawyer’s family alleged that he was killed over a property case.
Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani shared a video of Maheshwari’s wife protesting and demanded that the accused by arrested. “This woman is my hero!” he tweeted. “She has refused to eat and is fighting to bring justice to her husband, a fantastic BAMCEF activist and lawyer, who was brutally killed yesterday in Gujarat’s Rapar. I cannot imagine the pain she must be going through!”
He added: “If you have some guts then arrest Devji Maheshwari’s killers, Mr Vijay Rupani. “Are you so toothless that you cannot find murderers in Gujarat? Where is your intelligence unit of police? This is the joke on law and order in Gujarat where Dalits are killed in broad daylight.”