A 50-year-old dalit RTI activist, Amrabhai Boricha, was reportedly hacked to death in Sanodar village, Bhavnagar district, Gujarat on March 2. About 50 men belonging to the Darbar (Kshatriya) caste allegedly attacked Boricha with spears, iron pipes and swords after barging inside his house. He succumbed to his injuries en route the hospital in Bhavnagar city.
“Around 50 members of the Darbars from our village passed by our home playing loud music when my father and I were standing outside. A while later, they returned and started throwing stones at us. When my father ran inside (for protection), they barged in and started attacking him with swords, spears and iron pipes, despite us having police protection,” said Boricha’s daughter Nirmala, who got injured in attempts to save her father and was rushed to Sir Takhtasinji General Hospital in Bhavnagar city. Nirmala has broken fingers and injuries on her head.
Notably, Amrabhai Boricha, from the sole dalit family of Sanodar village in Ghogha taluka, Bhavnagar, has been the target of several attacks allegedly by the upper caste men of his village since 2013.
A month ago, Boricha, a farmer by occupation, had approached Ghogha Police Station to file a complaint after an attempt of attack on him by members of the Darbar community of the village. However, sub inspector PR Solanki, a Darbar by caste did not take his complaint, claimed his daughter Nirmala.
In 2013, Boricha was severely injured and broke his leg in another attack. Following which, he had filed a complaint under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 against the Darbar men of his village. However, the accused got bail and had been harassing and pressuring Boricha to take back the case.
Also read: Dalit RTI Activist Thrashed by ‘Upper Caste Men’ in Botad, Gujarat
Following the attack on him in 2013, Boricha had also sought the right to keep arms for his protection but was instead granted two home guard personnel, who couldn’t prevent the attack that killed him, his daughter said.
After his daughter’s complaint was registered, 10 accused were booked and the sub-inspector of Ghogha Police Station, PR Solanki, was suspended. Two FIRs have been lodged – one against PR Solanki who has been accused of ignoring the victim’s concern regarding threat to his life and another against Bhailubha Gohil and 9 others.
The 10 accused have been booked under IPC sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 452 (house trespass after preparation for causing hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 506 (2) (criminal intimidation), 324 (voluntary causing hurt with dangerous weapons or means), 294(b) (recital or singing abusive songs in public place), 120 B (unlawful assembly and rioting) and under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
It is to be noted that this is not the first time that a dalit RTI activist has been killed by upper caste men in Gujarat. In 2018, Nanji Sondarva was reportedly killed by men belonging to the Darbar caste in Rajkot. A year later in May 2019, his son, 20-year-old Rajesh Sondarva, a complainant in the murder case of his father, was killed by the family members of the accused.
Also read: Gujarat: 4 Wedding Processions of Dalits Attacked in a Week, CM Silent
Sondarvas were provided police protection at their home since the murder of Nanji Sondarva but the accused attacked Rajesh on his way back home from work.
In June 2019, Manji Solanki, a dalit deputy sarpanch, was brutally thrashed by men allegedly belonging to the Darbar caste in Botad district. He died on his way to the hospital in Ahmedabad. Manji, who had earned the ire of the upper caste men of his village for helping dalits file cases under SC/ST (PoA) Act, had been attacked multiple times and sought police protection but denied.
In October 2020, Devji Maheshwari, a dalit activist, lawyer and a member of All India Backward and Minority Communities (BAMCEF) and Indian Legal Professionals Association, was reportedly killed in broad day light in Kutch district.
Local police held that Maheshwari was killed for his social media posts against Brahmins. However, his wife claimed that Maheshwari was attacked because he was involved in fighting for land and property rights of dalits of the area.
In 2019, a response to an RTI filed by a Gujarat-based dalit activist had revealed that 1,545 cases of caste-based atrocities had been filed that year – the highest since the year 2001, and included 22 cases of murder and 104 incidents of rape.
Also read: Dalit Advocate, a BAMCEF Activist, in Kutch Killed for Alleged ‘Anti-Brahmin’ Posts