A 27-year-old Dalit youth, Pintu Galchar of Ravi village, Dhanera taluka, Banaskantha in North Gujarat, was at his home when six men of his village called him out and reportedly took him with them forcefully. Pintu never returned, his mutilated and stripped body with severe injury marks was found at the local bus stop on July 17, the next day.
Pintu lived with his parents and six siblings in one of the 40 Dalit households of Ravi village that is dominated by Purohits (Brahmins) who have about 500 households and Koli Patels with about 200 households.
Pintu had been the sole earner of the family after his brothers came back from various cities as factories were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“On July 16, Pintu, like every day, went out for his work at 6 am and came back at 8 in the night. We were all at home when at around 10 pm, six men – Hansraj Purohit, Chetan Purohit, Rama Babubhai Purohit, Rama Kapuraji Purohit, Kirti Purohit and Gautam Purohit came to our home. They came inside forcefully, verbally abused, and took Pintu with them in their Bolero car,” said Sanjay Ganchar, the victim’s younger brother.
“Pintu did not have a mobile phone so we waited for his return till late at night. But he did not come back till the next morning. Our sister Seema had gone to fill water at the end of the village and came back and told us that there was a crowd gathered around the village bus stop. I went out to see what had happened. When I reached there, I saw a body lying there, completely naked. When I looked closely, I realised it was my brother. There were severe injury marks on his back,” added Sanjay who used to work in a factory in Ahmedabad but has been home for the past three months owing to the pandemic.
Six accused, all belonging to upper caste (Brahmin) and residents of Ravi village, have been arrested by Dhanera police. The accused have been arrested under Sections 302 (murder), 364 (abduction), 294 (obscenity), and 143 (unlawful assembly) under IPC along with sections under Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Notably, one accused, Hansabhai Jamnabhai Purohit, is the husband of the village Sarpanch.
“Six accused have been arrested and are being interrogated. We are also waiting for the victim's post mortem report to confirm the reason behind the death,” said S.A. Dabhi, Police Inspector in charge of Dhanera police station.
“Couple of days back, there was an incident of shop breaking and Brahmins of the village suspected that it was Pintu who had stolen from the shop. They picked him up and thrashed him to make him confess, but he died during the ordeal. The six accused dropped his body and did not care if there were no clothes on the body,” said Dalpat Bhatia, a Dalit rights activist based in Banaskantha district.
“The family is very poor. Their father is very old and cannot work and most of his brothers are daily wage earners who barely earned anything during the lockdown. Moreover, the family had gone through a tough time with the siblings losing their mother to COVID-19 three months back,” added Bhatia.
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