Two Dalit youths were allegedly stripped and assaulted by a group of men following an altercation at a roadside eatery at the Sabarmati Toll Naka area of Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, late on Sunday, 3 November.
A video of the incident, in which the youth are being stripped and beaten, has since gone viral. Both the men seen in the video were admitted to a nearby hospital. One of them sustained serious head injuries and remains critical.
Vadgam’s independent MLA, Jignesh Mevani, has threatened to call a 24-hour bandh (shutdown) in Gujarat if the accused seen in the video aren’t apprehended immediately.
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The incident occurred on Sunday evening shortly after the two youths, Praghnesh and Jayesh Parmar, arrived at the roadside eatery near the Sabarmati Toll Naka.
An argument broke out between the two men and the owner of the food cart, Mahesh Thakor, over a delay in their food order. The altercation escalated further after Thakor, who lives nearby, called his family and friends. The men then allegedly went on to strip and assault the youths mercilessly.
Pragnesh sustained severe injuries and was immediately admitted to the Civil Hospital in Asarwa.
Subodh Parmar, a Dalit activist from Mevani’s Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, while speaking to The Quint, said: “The owner was rude in his exchange with the customers, who were Dalits. Things got out of hand and they started raining casteist slurs on the victims and soon started assaulting them. Thakor has a violent streak... locals in the area know of this very well. He has been arrested but one more accomplice seen in the video is still missing.”
The Quint also reached out to RH Vala, in charge, Police Inspector at Sabarmati Police Station, who said:
“Thakor has been arrested and we have filed a case against him under Section 307 (attempt to murder) and other sections of the Prevention of Atrocities Against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act. It started as a regular argument over a delay in bringing food. The motive was not to insult the victims’ caste. However, things got out of hand and Thakor and his relative Shankar assaulted Pragnesh. We are searching for Shankar along with other accused.”