On Wednesday, 13 June, evening, a 15-year-old boy from Vithlapur Village near Viramgam (Ahmedabad District Rural), traveled to Becharaji village in Mehsana District for a haircut. He covered a distance of 20 kilometres because Dalits in Vithlapur are not allowed to get haircuts.
One of the men was a native of the victim’s village and identified him by his caste. According to Vanzara, the victim at first said he was from a lower caste, but then out of fear of getting thrashed, he said he was a Darbar (upper caste community).
The men started thrashing the Dalit minor and abused him with the choicest swear words in Gujarati, all the while mocking him saying – “You want to be a Darbar?”
Deputy SP of Mehsana, Manjita Vanzara, gave further details of the incident to The Quint and said that four men approached him and asked him about his caste. They did so because the victim was wearing a ‘Mojidi’ (traditional footwear worn by upper caste men in Gujarat and Rajasthan).
Darbars Threaten Dalit Boy’s Family to Not File FIR
After the incident transpired, members of the Darbar community put pressure on the boy and his family to not file a police complaint.
However, Dalit activists got wind of the incident and widely circulated the video on social media. They met the boy and his family and convinced them to file an FIR.
Local Dalit activist, Kirit Rathod, told The Quint, “I just exited the police station. The boy and his family are inside the police station along with the men accused of assaulting the boy for the last two hours.”
We got reports of a video going viral on social media. We immediately left for his village in Vithlapur which falls in Ahmedabad Rural and convinced him and his family to file the case. From there we escorted them to Becharaji Police Station where an FIR was lodged against the accused under IPC Sections 323, 502, 365, 342, 505, Gujarat Police Act 105, Atrocities Act and IT Act.Manjita Vanzara, DySP of Mehsana
Three of the Four Accused Arrested
The State’s Social Welfare Department and the Collector of Mehsana paid Rs 50,000 as compensation to the minor Dalit boy. The police have also provided him with two constables who will protect him round the clock.
The four accused later fled from Becharaji after an FIR was filed. The names of the accused in the case are Bharatsinh Bhimsinh Darbar, Jaideep Banesang Darbar and Chehersinh Sunsang Solanki who are residents of Becharaji Mehsana. The fourth accused, Kuberbha Udaysinh Darbar, is a resident of Vithlapur in Ahmedabad Rural and was the one who identified the victim as a Dalit.
Director General of Police, Gujarat, Shivanand Jha told reporters on Saturday that 14 teams were created to arrest the accused as the gravity of the matter at hand is severe. Jaideep and Chehersinh were arrested on Saturday, 16 June. On Sunday, one of the teams arrested Kuberbha Darbar. Bharatsinh is still absconding.
(This story was updated on Monday, 18 June, with details from the press note issued by Gujarat’s DGP Shivanand Jha. It carries the names of the four accused, the arrests made so far and the compensation paid to the minor Dalit victim.)