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Amreli custodial death: Dalits demand CBI probe, threaten to convert to Buddhism in absence of 'fair' probe

Ahmedabad, Jul 4 (PTI) As many as 200 dalits from Amreli district on Monday threatened to convert to Buddhism alleging
police inaction in conducting a fair probe in the the death of a community member in judicial custody two weeks ago.

Jignesh Saundarva (29) who was lodged at Amreli sub-jail died at a civil hospital on 15 June. Though Amreli police today nabbed four prisoners from the sub-jail on the charges of Saundarva's murder, dalit community members as well as the deceased's kin expressed unhappiness over the probe and rushed to collector office to collect forms for conversion.

Saundarva was shifted to civil hospital after he developed health complications while being lodged in Amreli sub-jail, police had said.

He was arrested under Prohibition Act from Dungar village in Rajula tehsil of the district and was sent to judicial custody on 12 June.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Earlier, his family had refused to accept his body demanding a fair probe in the incident. After a day long protest, they had claimed the body after getting assurance of fair probe from police as well as the district administration.

On Sunday, Amreli Local Crime Branch arrested four prisoners who allegedly caused fatal injuries to Saundarva during a brawl inside the jail.

"Our probe has revealed that Saundarva had a scuffle with four undertrials inside the jail over some petty issue. During the scuffle, the accused thrashed him and hit his head on the wall, which led to his death. We have arrested all these prisoners from the jail today," said AP Patel, Police inspector of Amreli LCB.

However, Saundarva's kin as well as local dalit leaders expressed unhappiness over the police action, as they claimed that Saundarva died due to police torture.

"The post-mortem report suggests that Saundarva was beaten up three to four days before he was sent to jail. That means he was tortured during police remand. He might have been thrashed by the jail staff too during judicial custody.

"We want the CBI to investigate the case. We do not have any faith in the police," said dalit leader Navchetan Parmar. "To give a strong message to the government, around 200 dalits of Dungar and other adjoining places have decided to leave Hinduism and embrace Buddhism, for which, many of them have collected forms from the Collector office on Tuesday. We will submit these forms in coming days," said Parmar, who is leading the agitation.

He announced that these 200 dalits will start their journey towards embracing Buddhism by immersing idols and photographs of Hindu gods and goddesses, kept in their homes, in Thebi dam in this district Wednesday.

"Even if the government orders CBI inquiry, we will not step back from our decision to covert in protest of such injustice. If needed, we will also dig out Saundarva's body from the grave and march to Collector office on 7 July to raise our demand for a fair probe," he added.

Updated Date: Jul 05, 2017 17:14 PM

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