New Delhi: Migrant workers especially hailing from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh boarded home-bound trains from Gujarat after they were targeted in several parts of the state following the arrest of a Bihar native for allegedly raping a 14-month-old girl in Sabarkantha district last week. Police said that hate messages against non-Gujaratis, particularly those from Bihar and UP, were circulated on social media, after which protest broke out against them in Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Patan, Sabarkantha and Mehsana, a day after the accused was arrested.

One of the persons who was apparently attacked in the state claimed that some non-Gujaratis were going back to their native places. “We were attacked by Thakor Sena members at Kalol town of Gandhinagar. This is injustice to us. That is why we are going back to our native places as we feel unsafe here,” the person from Madhya Pradesh before boarding a bus claimed.

On September 28, a 14-month-old girl was allegedly raped in a village near Himmatnagar town of Sabarkantha district, around 100 km from Ahmedabad. The victim belongs to the Thakor community. After it came to light that the rape accused labourer, Ravindra Sahu hailed from Bihar, the Kshatriya Thakor Sena said migrant workers from other states should not be given jobs in Gujarat.

Director General of Police Shivanand Jha said that such attacks have taken place in north Gujarat and 170 people have been arrested in connection with the incidents. Speaking to reporters, Jha said around 18 FIRs were lodged in different districts of Gujarat so far following the attacks on non-Gujaratis.

“We have also arrested 170 persons. We will not allow such activities at any cost. We have instructed local police to increase vigil at factories and (housing) societies having a good number of non-Gujaratis. We are also keeping a watch on social media messages,” he added.

On October 2, a 200-strong mob, allegedly led by Thakor Sena members, stormed a factory near Vadnagar town of Mehsana district and thrashed two employees. Following the incident, 20 people were arrested on charges of rioting, an official of Mehsana Police had said. “Since the accused is from Bihar and the victim belongs to the Thakor community, some elements are spreading misleading messages on social media,” Inspector General (Gandhinagar Range) Mayanksinh Chavda said.

On October 3, a mob allegedly comprising Thakor community members engaged in vandalism in Chandlodia area of Ahmedabad, demanding people from North India leave the city, said the police.

“Some Thakor youths damaged vehicles and handcarts of North Indians living in that area. These accused were not officially attached with the Thakor Sena, but they are from that community. We have arrested 10 of them,” Police Inspector of Sola (Ahmedabad district) D H Gadhvi said.

Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor, who heads the Kshatriya Thakor Sena, appealed to his community and members of his outfit, who were allegedly involved in the attacks, to maintain peace, saying non-Gujaratis are also our brothers. However, Thakor was the first to rake up the issue of non- Gujaratis while demanding “justice” for the rape survivor a week back. He had then said locals should be given preference in jobs in industries in Gujarat.

(With inputs from agencies)