Rajesh Sondarva a 20-year-old dalit man, was brutally killed in Rajkot district, Gujarat on May 21. A group of eight men belonging to Darbar caste allegedly thrashed him and left him on road. In accordance with Rural Police of Rajkot, a night patrolling team found Sondarva crying for help at around 12.30 a.m on the outskirts of Manekwada, Kotada taluka, his village. As per Rajkot Rural Police, Sondarva was bleeding due to severe injuries from both his legs.
Eventually, Sondarva succumbed to his injuries at around 5 a.m on May 22 during his treatment.
Noticeably Rajesh Sondarva’s father, Nanji Sondarva, who was an RTI activist was killed by members of the same family a year back.
“Rajesh Sondarva was returning from Rajkot to his village when about 15 men caught him and attacked him with swords causing severe injuries on his legs and left him to die. Another man who was accompanying Sondarva was threatened to flee the scene,” said Subodh Parmar, a dalit rights activist associated with Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch.
“A year back, members of same family had killed Nanji Sondarva, father of Rajesh Sondarva and an RTI activist who had raised voice against the upper caste (Darbar) family who happen to be socially and politically powerful in the area. The family was living in fear ever since Nanji was killed as accused were released on bail,” added Parmar.
Noticeably, an initial FIR was registered against six accused for attempt to murder but after Sondarva passed away, the local police registered a case of murder against eight accused.
“Nanji was murdered by fathers and uncles of the accused of the current case. The two families have been into a feud since Nanji Sondarva exposed the accused family of financial irregularities in government schemes through RTI,” an official of the Rajkot Rural Police stated.
Noticeably, Mahendrasinh Jadeja, the sarpanch of the village and one of the members of the accused family is the prime accused in the Naji Sondarva murder case.
“The police had deployed personnel outside Sondarva’s house since the murder of Nanji. However, Rajesh Sondarva had gone somewhere and was attacked on his way back home. Police have found that Rajesh Sondarva’s legs were brutally thrashed and prima facie it seems he died because of profuse bleeding,” Balram Meena, Superintendent of Police, Rajkot district told the media.
“Six of eight accused have already been arrested,” added Meena.
Following the incident, Jignesh Mevani, independent MLA from Vadgam, along with other dalit activists have been occupying lobby outside chamber of Rajkot district collector. Mevani has also met the Collector in presence of Sandeep Singh, Deputy Inspector General of police, Rajkot.
Mevani has demanded a special investigation team to prove Rajesh Sondarva’s murder and include one of three names that will be suggested by family or probe be handed over to CID- Crime, special rehabilitation package for victims family beyond provisions of SC/ST Act, enough police protection to victims family, government job for younger brother of Rajesh Sondarva and departmental action against Shruti Mehta, Deputy Superintendent of Police investigating murder of Nanji Sondarva.