A special atrocity court in Veraval on July 1 ordered the day-to-day trial hearings of the Una dalit atrocity case that involves the flogging of 7 dalit men of one family by upper-caste men in June 2016.
Vasram Sarvaiya, one of the 7 victims, had filed a plea through advocate Govind Parmar on June 21 seeking day- to-day trial of the case.
Despite opposition by both defence and prosecution, the special court of fifth Additional District Judge BL Choithani — which handles the cases pertaining to the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act — in its order, asked the prosecution to submit the list of witnesses by July 12.
“We argued the case on June 21. The court has allowed our application for conducting a trial on a daily basis. The trial will begin on July 29,” said advocate Parmar.
“While the victims argued that delaying the case has allowed the accused to be out on bail, the defence lawyer argued that day-to-day trial would be hard on the accused as they cannot bear the cost of travelling from Una to Veraval every day,” he added.
Since the trial began on August 3, 2018 — more than two years after the incident — only 37 out of the 300 witnesses has been examined over 11 hearings till June 21, 2019.
The CID had probed the case and chargesheeted 34 accused, including 4 policemen. The chargesheet has revealed that the 7 dalit members of Sarvaiya family were flogged for skinning a dead cow that had been killed by a lioness. The accused policemen had twisted the matter into a case of “beef being found”.
While one of the 4 police personnel died in 2017, 21 out of the 43 accused have been out on bail. The main conspirator Shantilal Monpara, president of Sanatan Charitable Trust, was among the first to get bail in December 2016, within 6 months of the incident.
Also read: Una Flogging Case – No Protection For Witnesses, 21 of 43 Accused Out on Bail
In December 2016, the court of Justice AJ Desai had held that the chargesheet had been filed and the trial would take time. While giving bail to Shantilal Monpara, the court observed, “Prima facie it appears that there is no direct or indirect role of [the] applicant which should establish that he has instigated the assaulters and was in contact with them. It appears that he was not present at any places where the incident has taken place.”
On the same day, four accused — then police inspector Nirmalsinh Jhala, Nitin Kumar Kothari, Natvarsinh Mer and police sub-inspector Narendra Pandey — who were all named in the chargesheet by the CID, got conditional bail.
Noticeably, Ramesh Sarvaiya and his cousin Ashok Sarvaiya, 2 of the 4 youths who were flogged and paraded semi-naked, were once again attacked on April 25, 2018 — days before the family converted to Buddhism — by Kiransinh Darbar, one of the accused out on bail.
Dipendra Yadav, the public prosecutor in the case, has been repeatedly writing to the authorities concerned, demanding an office space for himself to prepare the witnesses as well as security for the witnesses, but in vain.
“There has been instances during the course of the trial of the case, when the accused who are out on bail have driven the witnesses in their car on trial dates with them, influencing them to turn hostile,” advocate Govind Parmar had told Newsclick earlier.
In October 2018, the Sarvaiya family had met the authorities concerned in the State Home Department to submit a memorandum, demanding the family be provided with security personnel while travelling as the current home guard personnel deployed at their residence was not sufficient.
They had also demanded a vehicle for travelling to court at Veraval owing to their financial situation, besides working facility and security for the public prosecutor of the case lest he is forced to quit.