A 27-year-old Dalit man was allegedly attacked by a group of seven men over a 40-year-old land dispute in a village in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district, police said on Thursday. While a police sub-inspector has been suspended for failing to act in time during the attack that took place in Suigam taluka on July 25, police protection has been given to the victim Baldev Rathod, who sustained life-threatening injuries and is currently being treated at a hospital in Palanpur, deputy superintendent, SC/ST Cell, D T Gohil.
The Suigam police registered an FIR two weeks ago based on a complaint lodged by the victim’s cousin Vardhabhai Rathod.
According to the FIR, seven men from an OBC community brutally thrashed Baldev at Nesda village on the morning of July 25, when the latter had gone to check the damage in his three-acre farm after the accused allegedly set the surrounding boundary on fire the previous night.
“The piece of land belonged to Baldev’s forefathers, but the accused had been occupying it illegally for over 40 years. Around three years ago, we finally received physical possession of the land after the intervention of local authorities. Hence, they held a grudge against us and threatened us," Vardhabhai told PTI.
“On the night of July 24, the accused once again threatened Baldev. Though we approached PSI H D Vadher, he did not take any steps. As a result, the accused set the boundary, made of dry wooden branches, on fire the next day. When Baldev reached the spot, these seven men attacked him using sharp weapons and sticks," he added.
The accused Bababhai Rajput, Swarupbhai Rajput, Ramsung Rajput, Gemar Rajput, Nilesh Rajput, Ababhai Rajput and Vikram Rajput have been booked on the charges of attempt to murder, rioting and under relevant sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, said Suigam sub-inspector K M Suthar.
“Of these accused, Bababhai has been arrested, while efforts are on to nab others. We have provided police protection to Baldev and two of his family members," said Suthar, who took over after the Vadher’s suspension.