A Dalit Right to Information activist was on Tuesday allegedly beaten to death by upper caste men in a village in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, The Indian Express reported. No first information report has been registered in connection with the crime as of Wednesday.
Amrabhai Boricha, the 50-year-old activist, was allegedly attacked with spears, iron pipes and swords in Sanodar village, his family members told the newspaper. The attack on his life came even though he was under police protection after he reportedly recieved death threats, according to The Times of India.
Boricha’s daughter said the incident took place in the evening, when about 50 members of the upper caste Kshatriya community were passing by their house, playing loud music. “My father and I were standing outside,” she said.
Few moments later, the band of men came back to Boricha’s house, and allegedly started to throw stones on them, the daughter alleged. As the activist ran inside his home for safety, the assailants allegedly broke the gate, barged in and attacked him with spear, iron pipes and sword, she added, according to The Indian Express.
Boricha died on the spot. But the community members and his family refused to cremate his body, demanding the arrest of the assailants. “We have police protection, yet they managed to barge in with spear, axes, pipes and swords,” the activist’s daughter said.
The police, on the other hand, said they were investigating the allegations made by the family. “I have handed over the investigation to deputy superintendent of police of SC/ST cell, and asked him conduct a detailed probe,” Bhavnagar Inspector General Ashok Yadav told The Times of India.
Deputy Superintendent of Police, Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe Cell, DV Kodiyatar said, “It is also a matter of investigation how he was attacked despite having the protection of GRD [Gram Rakshak Dal] jawans.”
Boricha was attacked before, allege activists
Arvind Makwana, a Dalit activist working with an Ahmedabad-based non-governmental organisation, told The Indian Express that Boricha had been facing problems with some members of the Kshatriya community for about a month.
Makwana alleged that Boricha’s was the lone Dalit family in Sanodar village and that the Kshatriyas were trying to usurp his agricultural land as well as his residential plot. “Around a month ago, the accused had encroached on Boricha’s residential plot,” the activist added. “He had given a complaint to police but no action was taken.”
The activist added that Boricha had even moved court against the police inaction. “In the meantime, he was attacked by a group of Kshatriyas,” Makwana alleged.
Meanwhile, a Dalit leader in Bhavnagar, Mavji Sarvaiya, told The Times of India that Boricha was attacked by some people of a community five years ago, and he had suffered permanent damage in legs. “He was under pressure to withdraw the FIR and settle the issue,” Sarvaiya added. “His house was set on fire once and his daughter attacked.”