The Dalit victims of the 2016 Una flogging incident in Gujarat have sought permission from President Ram Nath Kovind to end their lives, claiming that the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state had not fulfilled the promises made to them more than two years ago.
Seven members of a Dalit family were thrashed by self-proclaimed cow vigilantes on July 11, 2016 in Mota Samadhiyala village in Una taluka of Gir Somnath district.
One of them, Vashram Sarvaiya, wrote a letter to Kovind Wednesday on behalf of all the victims, requesting him to grant them permission to end their lives.
In the letter, Sarvaiya said after the incident, which had caused a national outrage, then Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel had met the victims in the village and promised to give each of them five acres of land and jobs according to their educational qualifications.
"However, even after two-and-a-half years, we have not received anything. Since we have already left the business of skinning of dead cattle, we must be given jobs or some other work. Otherwise, we would starve to death," he said in the letter which lists a host of demands.
Sarvaiya claimed several representations were made to the state government in this regard but in vain.
He alleged the state government did nothing for cancellation of the bail granted to some of the accused arrested in the incident.
"Some of these accused, after getting bail, have committed other crimes and violated their bail conditions. Yet, the state government did nothing to cancel their bail. This situation is unbearable for us. We urge you to grant us
permission to end our lives," the Dalit victim said.
Sarvaiya also demanded police protection for his family during their deposition in the local court, where the case is being heard.
The other demands mentioned in the letter include setting up a police outpost in Mota Samadhiyala, development of the village and withdrawal of cases lodged against Dalits during protests over the incident across the state.
Copies of the letter were also sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Member of Parliament Kirit Solanki and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani through registered post, he said.
In the letter, Sarvaiya threatened to sit on an indefinite hunger strike outside Solanki's Delhi residence from December 7 if the government did not accept their demands.
Seven members of the Sarvaiya family were allegedly thrashed by cow vigilantes when they were skinning a dead cow. The self-proclaimed 'gau rakshaks' had alleged the victims were involved in cow slaughter.
Later, four Dalits, including Sarvaiya, his brother Ramesh, cousins Ahshok and Bechar, were taken to Una town, where they were tied to a vehicle and allegedly thrashed by the vigilantes.
The matter came to light after a video of the flogging, allegedly made by the vigilantes, went viral on social media platforms, leading to a nationwide outcry.