Gujarat: 'We were constantly threatened' says the family of murdered dalit man

Though, activists have accused the administration of letting the conspirators run away, the police have arrested one of the eight accused.

Ahmedabad: The family of the murdered dalit man Haresh Solanki has accused his wife Urmila’s family of constantly threatening them ever since the couple married about six-months ago.

Though the activists have accused the administration of letting the conspirators run away, the police have arrested one of the eight accused, named in the FIR, on Wednesday.

All eight accused belong to seven Zala families who are related to each other and live in the same locality, The Indian Express reported.

Solanki was married to Urmila Zala, a resident of Varmor in Ahmedabad rural. Solanki was murdered by Urmila’s father Dashrathsinh Zala and seven other relatives in the presence of the staff of the 181 Abhayam Women helpline, outside her house.

“Haresh had eloped with Urmila and initially they had gone to Delhi to spend two months over there. I received threats from Urmila’s father, brother and uncle demanding that we return the girl to them,” The Indian Express quoted Solanki’s father.

Solanki was serving as a driver in a private company. The couple met in Kadi, a town in Mehsana where Urmila was pursuing her graduation and Solanki was doing a part-time job.

A couple of months after their wedding, the couple returned from Delhi and started staying with Solanki’s family in Gandhidham. After Urmila’s pregnancy, her family forcefully took her back to Varmor.

“Two months ago, seven persons from her family arrived at our house and forcibly took her away,” Solanki’s father said. “However, Haresh kept persuading us to talk to her parents and bring her back.”

Solanki’s father claimed Haresh to be the only breadwinner in the family. “I was earlier posted as a security guard at a company in Gandhidham but I lost that job. Haresh was supporting the family single-handedly with his job,” he said.

The family is originally from Unjha in Mehnsana and had migrated to Gandhidham. Solanki was cremated in Unjha on Tuesday.

Speaking of the progress of the case, P D Manvar, Deputy superintendent of police, SC/ST Cell, Ahmedabad rural said, “We have arrested one person named Harish Chandrasinh Zala, who was one of the eight accused who had attacked Solanki”. Efforts are on to trace the remaining accused who are part of the seven Zala families, he added.

“The Mandal police station is barely six kilometres away from Varmor village,” Kirit Rathod, a Dalit activist based in Ahmedabad said. “After Haresh was attacked, the lady police constable present at the spot called (police control room number) 100, and according to the FIR, police reached the spot in the next 15 minutes. Then how is it possible for all eight accused to flee along with their families within this time period?”

Rathod said the Zala families have at least 30-35 members. “Everybody has vanished into thin air. The police provided enough leeway to the accused to avoid arrest,” he alleged.

Solanki had dialled a helpline to negotiate with Urmila’s family. The 181 team comprising a state counsellor, a woman police constable and a driver accompanied Solanki to Urmila’s residence in Varmor around 6 pm on Monday.

As Solanki and the driver waited in the government vehicle, the constable and counsellor tried negotiating with Urmila’s father. When Dashrathsinh Zala got to know that Solanki was waiting outside his house, he and seven other people dragged the youth outside the vehicle and stabbed him on his head with knives, swords and iron rods, killing him on the spot.

The woman constable and counsellor were also attacked by the accused and the state vehicle was vandalised during the assault.

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