Ahmedabad, Feb 15 (PTI) A Dalit farmer sustained severe burn injuries after he set himself on fire outside the Patan district collector’s office today alleging delay in handing over a piece of land allotted to him under a government scheme, a police official said.
The man was identified as Banubhai Vankar, who hails from Unjha village, the official said.
Nine other Dalit men were detained by the police after they tried to storm into the premises of the collectorate with the intention to commit suicide and were later released, a police station officer of Patan B-Division police station said.
“As many as nine people were detained briefly after they tried to storm into the office of the collector with the intention 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,” the official said.
“However, Banubhai Vankar from Unjha village managed to enter the collectorate premises by jumping over the barricade and set himself on fire. He has been shifted to a hospital in Ahmedabad,” the official said.
Farmers from as many as four villages were protesting over the delay in providing physical possession of the government land allotted to them despite some of them having deposited the required fee to the revenue department for the same, the police said.
An affected farmer, Hemaben Vankar from Dudhda village in Sami taluka of the district, said that in 2015 she had filed an application in the state revenue department to get a piece of land under a government scheme to the landless Dalits.
She, however, alleged that even after depositing Rs 22,236 for the transfer of the land to her, she is yet to get the land.
NGO Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, fighting for the rights of Dalits, gave a call for Patan bandh to protest against the “administrative negligence” in the transfer of land to Dalits, “which forced a group to attempt suicide”.
Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani, who is 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.
He demanded suspension of the collector and superintendent of police holding them responsible for the suicide attempts by the farmers.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.