Gujarat Congress MLA ‘siding with attackers’ of Dalit RTI activist

Source: Counterview.net A civil society fact-finding team has taken strong exception to a Dalit MLA belonging to the Congress, Pravin Maru, for pressurizing the local administration in Botad district to take back the police complaint concerning brutal attack on Dalit rights and Right to Information (RTI) activist Amit Parmar, belonging to Khopala village. Instead of helping Parmar, the Congress MLA is siding of the attackers, Parmar’s family members alleged while talking with the team.

The attack on Parmar took place following he made an RTI plea on details of budgeted allocation and expenditure made over the last three years from the grant received by the village panchayat for developmental work. The plea insisted, the panchayat give him the name of the agencies to whom the contract was given and the work done.

Consisting of RTI activist Bharatsinh Zala, also a labour rights leader; Minaxiben Joshi of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL); Kantiblal Parmar and Yash Makwana, Dalit rights activists; Pratik Rupala, a Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) advocate; and Noorjaha Diwan of the human rights organization Anhad, the fact-finding team quotes the victim, Amit Parmar, as saying that he was attacked on November 24, 2019, almost a month after he made the plea on funds details.

Recuperating from his injury, Parmar told the team that though the village has a woman sarpanch, her husband and their son with the help of “some anti-social elements” were ruling the roost in the village. They had occupied a common grazing land and were using it for their personal gain by doing farming on it. The attack took place after he and his brother, Vinodbhai Jerambhai Parmar, proceeded towards Gadhda town on bike.

At about time 2.30 pm, between villages Lakhanka and Adtala, four persons riding a Hero Honda bike and an Activa scooter, reached up to them. Their mouths were covered with handkerchief, the team was told. They were armed with iron pipes and other weapons. They stopped Parmar’s bike. After abusing him, they began hitting him brutally, asking him to withdraw his RTI plea, otherwise they would kill him.

Injured, Parmar’s brother called for the 108 ambulance, which carried him to the Umrada government hospital for treatment, from where he was shifted to a Bhavnagar hospital. Under treatment, the report prepared by the team says, Parmar’s is not an isolated incident. In all, 14 murders and over 240 attacks on RTI applicants have taken place in Gujarat, even as the RTI Act completes 14 years of its existence.

The fact-finding team report said, Parmar was threatened several times earlier also after he made applications to the district and taluka officials for get the common village land rid of illegal occupation by dominant persons in the village. Copies of the application were sent to the state revenue minister and leader of the opposition in the Gujarat state assembly. He had also made complaints against caste discrimination of Dalits in the village, stating, they were not allowed to enter into the village temple.

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