After visiting victims of cow vigilantism in Una in Gujarat on Friday, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal blamed the state government for growing atrocities against Dalits in the state and demanded the strictest punishment to the guilty.
On the sidelines of the visit, Kejriwal described cow protection groups that have sprung up in recent times as “BJP goondas unleashed by the top BJP leadership to polarise society and create fear in the minds of people”.
After meeting the four victims admitted at the Civil Hospital here, Kejriwal told media: “The culprits must get such a punishment that it should shake them to the core. An example must be set.”
“They (the Dalit victims) were thrashed in full public view. If such an incident is happening in the presence of the administration, it means those culprits were backed by higher powers. It shows the government was involved,” Kejriwal said.
He accused the Gujarat government of being “anti-Dalit”.
Four Dalit youths were stripped above the waist and beaten mercilessly with iron rods in Mota Samadhiya village by a cow protection group for skinning a dead cow.
The video of the thrashing went viral, sparking outrage nationwide.
A day earlier, Kejriwal said an atmosphere of “oppression” prevailed across Gujarat and people of all communities were feeling threatened.
In a video message, he asked people to unite and raise their voice against what he called the oppression of the state.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi visited Una and met the family of victims on Thursday.
In Parliament, opposition parties targeted the BJP for increased violence against Dalits in recent times.
They said the atmosphere created by the BJP was responsible for violent activities of the vigilante groups.