Large-scale violence has erupted at several places in Gujarat following the alleged rape of a 14-month-old girl in the state. According to reports, the girl was raped on September 28 in a village near Himmatnagar town of Sabarkantha district in Gujarat. Residents of the village belong to the Thakor community. Following the incident, one Ravindra Sahu, a labourer from Bihar, was arrested on the same for the rape, according to the police. Sahu works in a local ceramic factory.
Following the arrest, attacks on people from Bihar and UP took place in several places in the state including Gandhinagar, Mehsana, Sabarkantha, Patan and Ahmedabad districts in the last one week. The attacks were instigated by hate messages against people from UP and Bihar being circulated on social media.
After it was known that the rape accused is from Bihar, the Kshatriya Thakor Sena demanded that migrant workers from other states should not be given jobs in Gujarat. A mob of around 200 people, allegedly led by Thakor Sena members, attacked a factory near Vadnagar town of Mehsana district on October 2 and thrashed two employees. Similar violence has happened against people from Bihar and UP in many places in the state, either led by Thakor Sena members or people belonging to Thakor Community.
To contain the violence, police has arrested around 170 people so far. Police security is also have been placed outside industrial units where migrants from other states work. According to Gandhinagar Range IG Mahendrasinh Chavda, till Friday evening 23 FIRs have been registered for rioting, damage to public and private property. Nearly 20 State Reserve Police (SRP) companies have been deployed for security in the affected districts.
Police said that most people being attacked are factory workers and street vendors. “They are being targeted by design. In industrial areas, the attacks have been reported when factories are about to open or close,” said a senior police officer. Handcarts selling panipuri and other street snacks by non-Gujaratis have been ransacked by attackers in several places.
Meanwhile, Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor, who is also president of the Thakor Sena, has claimed that members of his organisation are innocent and has demanded that all cases against them are withdrawn within 72 hours. He says that people from the community and members of Sena may be involved in violence but no instruction was given from Sena for any attack. He says that Sena is only targeting government and private companies for employing people from other states. Alpesh claims that the rule of 80 per cent local employment has not been followed by companies in the state.
But, it was Alpesh Thakor who first raised the issue of non-Gujaratis while demanding “justice” for the rape victim. He has demanded that the rape case should be tried in a fast track court and also demanded a compensation of Rs five lakhs to the rape survivor.