During a discussion on atrocities on Dalits in Una, Congress members rushed to the Well of the House and displayed placards that accused the BJP government of being “anti-Dalit”. Some MLAs also threw bangles towards BJP ministers. At least 20 members wore body suit banners. The members continued their protest despite repeated warnings from Speaker Ramanlal Vora.
As the din refused to die down, the Speaker ordered marshals to evict the protesting members from the House. And then he suspended them for a day.
The Speaker said that the Opposition came with a pre-planned strategy to protest over Dalit issues.
Two leaders – Congress Leader of Opposition Shankersinh Vaghela and senior leader Mohansinh Rathwa – remained seated during the ruckus. Even though the Speaker did not suspended them, they walked out in protest.
Earlier, the session began with a heated debate on the issue of Dalit atrocity in the state.
Congress leader Raghavji Patel raised the issue of attack on Dalits at Samter village after the Dalit Asmita rally on August 15 as a matter of urgent public interest under Gujarat Assembly Rule 116.
He sought answer from the government as to what actions were being taken to provide security to Dalits.
Minister of State for Home, Pradipsinh Jadeja in his reply said that Dalits were attacked at Samter village when they were returning from the rally on Independence Day. He said police fired 51 teargas shells and several rounds in the air to protect them. In the process, 7 police personnel including one Deputy SP and a police inspector, were injured, Jadeja said.
Following this, Congress leader Vaghela demanded a judicial inquiry by a sitting High Court judge into the Una incident where Dalits were beaten over skinning of a dead cow on July 11. Vaghela also said the CID inquiry initiated by the government was not trustworthy.
Chief minister Vijay Rupani responded by saying that the government will act with responsibility to ensure safety of Dalits. He also asked the Opposition to work together to protect the interest and safety of Dalits.
However, Congress leader Raghavji alleged that the Dalits in Samter were attacked because they were not provided adequate police protection even when the government said that 11 FIRs were filed in the case.
At this point Congress Dalit leader Shailesh Parmar rose to demand a judicial inquiry by a sitting High Court judge in the Una incident. He also questioned as to why the Sanjay Prasad report on 2012 Thangad killing of three Dalit youths by police, and a CEPT University report on untouchability in Gujarat, were not yet tabled in the House.
Responding to this, Jadeja said Thangadh incident report was under consideration, and added that government has formed a Special Investigation Team to investigate the Thangadh incident. The government has also requested the High Court to constitute a designated court for this.
A heated debate ensued over this with Congress leader Manibhai Vaghela alleging that the Una incident was a pre-planned conspiracy to destabilise Gujarat government and remove Anandiben Patel as chief minister.
On this remark BJP MLA Jayantibhai Kavadiya made some comments and Manibhai twice threatened to lodge a case against him. This caused chaos in the House with the chief minister assuring that the BJP government is with the Dalit community.
The 182-member Gujarat Assembly has 57 Congress MLAs, 2 NCP, 1 JDU, one independent and 121 legislators of the ruling BJP.
(With inputs from PTI)