Gujarat government accepts demands of family of Dalit activist who died after immolating self

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat government on Saturday accepted the demands of family members of Dalit activist Bhanubhai Vankar who had immolated himself on Thursday. Vankar's kin had refused to accept his body after it was brought for post-mortem to the Gandhinagar civil hospital.

Vankar had set himself ablaze outside the Patan Collector's office on Thursday and had died of burn injuries at a private hospital in Ahmedabad the next day.

Hundreds of Dalit protesters gathered outside the hospital to support the family which was demanding the setting up of a Special Investigation Team to probe the matter and re-granting of land which had been allotted to Dalits across the state but whose ownership titles had not been regularised.

Talking to reporters, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said the land in question would be transferred in the name of the family member.

File image of Vankar. Image courtesy: Twitter/@RavindraDalvi

File image of Vankar. Image courtesy: Twitter/@RavindraDalvi

"We will also constitute a judicial commission under a retired high court judge or form an SIT for investigation, as per the decision of the family, and we will take strict action against those responsible," Patel said.

"A member of the family will be given a government job, and the family will be given Rs 8 lakh as per the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, out of which Rs 4 lakh will be handed over immediately," Patel told reporters.

"The government will, at the earliest, also re-grant land which was allotted to beneficiaries across the state but were been given the titles of the land," he added.

Earlier in the day, Dalit leader and independent MLA Jignesh Mevani and leader of the Opposition Paresh Dhanani met Vankar's kin at the Gandhinagar civil hospital. Vankar was part of Mevani's Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch.

Mevani had threatened to launch a protest if the state government did not yield to their demands.

Protesters at the site had also turned away Karshan Solanki, the BJP MLA from Kadi, when he arrived at the hospital.

Vankar was fighting for Hemaben Vankar, a landless Dalit farm labourer, who had alleged that authorities were not allotting a plot of land to her family despite collecting Rs 22,236 in 2013.

In a memorandum submitted to the Collector a week ago, Hemaben, along with Vankar, had threatened self-immolation.

Despite deployment of police outside the Patan Collectors office, Mehsana resident Vankar managed to set himself ablaze. The state government had ordered an inquiry into the incident to be helmed by chief secretary JN Singh.

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Updated Date: Feb 17, 2018 22:27:27 IST

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