Gandhinagar, Mar 3 (PTI) The BJP and Congress were engaged in a war of words in Legislative Assembly today after the opposition party alleged “exodus” of 14 dalit families from Par village in Patan district following a “threat” by members of dominant castes for not disposing of animal carcasses.

A short call notice, seeking discussion as well as the government’s reply on the issue under rule 116 of the House, was given by the Congress MLA Ramesh Chavda.

Chavda alleged the police as well as local administration have not taken steps to nab culprits who have “forced” the dalit families to leave Par village.

“In October last year, when these dalits refused to lift carcasses of cattle in the village, some of the upper caste members threatened them with dire consequences and forced them to leave the village. Since then, these 14 families have taken a shelter in Patan town,” he said.

He alleged the police as well as local administration didn’t do anything to stop the “exodus” of dalits.

“When an FIR was finally registered last month, only two out of total 21 persons were arrested. In addition, there was no effort from the government to ensure the return of these dalits,” the Congress MLA said.

In his reply, the Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Atmaram Parmar said the Congress and not the BJP government was “responsible” for the problem.

“Congress is responsible for this problem, not the Gujarat Government. One of the accused is the husband of a local Congress leader, while another accused are relatives of a sitting Congress MLA. You are tormenting dalits and then seeking answers from us,” he said.

Unsatisfied with the minister’s reply, Congress MLA Shailesh Parmar alleged that dalits are subjected to such discrimination across Gujarat under the BJP rule.

“After the Una dalit flogging incident, dalits announced to stay away from skinning the dead cattle to express their anger. However, this government has remained insensitive towards them. Police lodged an FIR only after these families set on a ‘dharna’ outside Patan collector office,” he said.

Countering him, the minister said an FIR was registered on February 22 and all the 21 accused have been arrested and are currently in the custody of Patan police.

He admitted that the 14 dalit families are yet to be brought back to their village.

“The district administration, leaders of society and of various political parties are trying their best to bring back these dalit families to the village,” he said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.