India: Dalit activist attempts self immolation in Gujarat as response to land deregularisation
February 16, 2018, 3:19 am

A 60 year old Dalit activist Bhanu Vankar on Thursday attempted self immolation in front of the Collector Office in Patan, Gujarat, protestingthe authorities’ failure to regularise a piece of land allotted to him.

He had sustained around 80 % burn injuries and was said to be critical in a hospital in Ahmedabad.

Nine other Dalit men who tried to storm the Collectorate to end their lives, were detained by the police and were later released.

“As many as nine people were detained briefly after they tried enter the collectorate planning to commit suicide. They had expressed their intention to the collector on a previous date and police were deployed in large numbers to prevent any such attempt,” a police official from Patan said.

“However, Banubhai Vankar from Unjha village managed to enter the collector office premises by jumping over the barricade and set himself on fire. He had been shifted to a hospital in Ahmedabad,” the official said.

The incident triggered a huge backlash among the Dalit community in the State.

A shame, says Jignesh Mevani

Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, fighting for Dalit rights gave a call for Patan bandh on Friday to protest against the ‘administrative negligence” in transfering lands to Dalits, ‘which forced them to attempt suicide.”

Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani, also the convener of the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, in a statement said it was a ”matter of shame” for the BJP government that Dalits had to resort to extreme steps to fight for their rights in the State.

Mr Mevani demanded suspension of the Collector and superintendent of police holding them responsible for driving the community members to take extreme step.