Gujarat saw a statewide shutdown on Wednesday over the assault of four Dalits for skinning a dead cow last week, even as there was uproar in Parliament — especially the Lok Sabha — where Home Minister Rajnath Singh praised the Gujarat government over its handling of the situation as protests erupted in the state.
The incident that triggered protests all over is from a little over a week ago, when four Dalits were stripped and beaten for skinning a dead cow in the Mota Samadhiyala village near the town of Una in Gujarat. The issue snowballed to the extent that the Congress has picked it up as one of the fronts to attack the BJP during the Monsoon session of Parliament.
On Wednesday, the Congress gave notice in the Lok Sabha for discussion of the issue. Speaking on it, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said: "We strongly condemn the Una incident in Gujarat. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken cognizance of the issue." He also said nine people have been arrested in the case, while four policemen have been suspended for dereliction of duty.
Then he praised the Gujarat government's handling of the protests since the Una incident, leading to an uproar in the Lok Sabha. He also said a large number of cases of atrocities on Dalits were registered in Gujarat when the Congress ruled the state, but the numbers have declined sharply since the BJP came to power, leading to further ruckus in the House.
Rajnath also said: "Atrocities against Dalits are a social evil. We must take it up as a challenge. I urge all parties to come together to fight this."
Meanwhile, the Bhartiya Dalit Panther, a Dalit rights group, called for a shutdown in Gujarat on Wednesday, a day after at least seven Dalits had attempted suicide in the state in protest against the Una incident. The bandh call was said to be partially successful, with reports of normal life being affected coming in various parts of Gujarat.