Indian state of Gujarat continued to simmer for a third consecutive day as protests against brutal thrashing of Dalit youths (placed at the bottom of Indiá caste system) allegedly by some self-styled cow vigilantes. In several parts of the state, a shutdown was observed, besides road blockade and silent protests.
Amid tensions, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi met the kin of the tannery workers who were beaten up allegedly by self-styled vigilante for skinning a dead cow on July 11 and assured them of all help. He also visited the hospital in Rajkot where the victims are admitted.
Bharatiya Janata Party termed Rahul Gandhi's visit to Gujarat a ''political pilgrimage'' and ''photo-op'' and accused the opposition of trying to make political capital out of social tensions.
With the party coming under increasing attack from opposition over its "anti-dalit" stand, BJP's senior party member M Venkaiah Naidu sought to highlight its pro-dalit and pro- weaker sections credentials by noting that it had highest number of SC, ST and OBC Members of Parliament.
He claimed in a press conference that the opposition was afraid because weaker sections of the society were moving to the BJP and the Modi government was "immensely popular". So they have launched a disinformation campaign against it, he alleged. They are doing so because of the UP assembly polls, he said. "They, including our main rival (Congress) are instigating one community against another," he said.
Separately, Nationalist Congress Party politician Praful Patel along with two MLAs in Gujarat met one victim, Bhanubhai Sarvaiya, and his family members at Mota Samadhiyala and offered compensation of Rs 2 lakh, before leaving for Rajkot to meet the hospitalised victims.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is scheduled to visit Una in Gujarat's Gir-Somnath district on Friday.
Naidu also targeted Kejriwal saying, "Now they are making a political pilgrimage. It is nothing but an attempt to make political capital out of social tensions."
Attacking Gandhi over his Gujarat visit, the Information and Broadcasting Minister said he did not find time to visit Kerala where a dalit girl was raped and murdered and the Hyderabad university, where many dalit students committed suicide during the UPA government.