A 72-year-old Army veteran on Tuesday, 13 September, died during a protest by ex-servicemen in Gujarat's Gandhinagar after which his family and associates alleged he was beaten up by police, which denied the claim and cited cardiac arrest as the reason.
Sources revealed the deceased, Kanjibhai Mothalia, was the elder brother of senior Gujarat IPS officer JR Mothalia.
Retired soldiers, agitating against the state government over their pending demands, claimed Kanjibhai Mothalia died after being thrashed by police during the protest.
Denying the claim, Gandhinagar Superintendent of Police Tarun Kumar Duggal said the Army veteran died due to a cardiac arrest and some age-related ailments.
"I am with Kanjibhai Mothalia's family members at the civil hospital and post-mortem is being done. Preliminary inquiry has revealed that he died due to a cardiac arrest. He was feeling suffocated during the protest and he was already suffering from some ailments. We have not used force on protesters. There is no question of thrashing anyone," said Duggal.
What Had Happened?
To put pressure on the government to accept their demands, nearly 100 ex-servicemen gathered near Chiloda Circle on the outskirts of Gandhinagar on Tuesday afternoon and then started their march towards the state capital.
While some protesters reached Gandhinagar, a group of ex-soldiers sat outside the gate of a military station on Gandhinagar-Chiloda Road, said Magan Solanki, a key member of the Gujarat's Ex-Armymen Union.
"Kanjibhai Mothalia was part of that group. Some policemen came to the spot and started a lathi-charge. They also kicked Mothalia, which led to his death. We want action against all the erring policemen," said Solanki.
A family member also alleged that Kanjibhai Mothalia was thrashed by police.
"He died after being thrashed by police. We want justice. He was the family's only support. The government must give us compensation," the family member told reporters outside the Gandhinagar civil hospital.
What Are the Retired Soldiers Demanding?
Retired soldiers have been holding protests at regular intervals to get the Gujarat government accept their long-pending demands.
Some of the major demands include government jobs to one member of the family of each martyr and strict implementation of reservations in state jobs from Class 1 to 4 for retired defence personnel.
Besides, the agitators want a martyrs' memorial in Gandhinagar, agricultural land for retired Army personnel as per rules, priority while issuing or renewing a gun licence, and removal of contract system in jobs offered to former defence personnel.
The ex-servicemen have also demanded a full waiver of professional tax, quota for their children in higher education and priority for their work in government offices.