Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday visited the home of a Dalit man whose four sons were brutally flogged on July 11 for skinning a dead cow and announced assistance of Rs 5 lakh for the family.
Gandhi, who flew into Gujarat in the morning, drove straight to the house of Babubhai Sarvaiya in Samadhiyala village of Una and spent 40 minutes with the family.
Gandhi was accompanied by the party's Gujarat affairs in-charge Gurudas Kamat, state Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki and other party leaders here as well as Congress leader and Dalit leader Kumari Selja.
Scores of people thronged Samadhiyala village in Una taluka (tehsil) of Gir-Somnath district as the Congress leader spent time in the village.
Even as he freely interacted with them, Gandhi asked Jitu Sarvaiya, Babubhai's nephew, if this was the first time or they had been suffering caste discrimination for long.
"There was nothing new in this, this is quite normal," Sarvaiya said.
Rahul's question in Hindi was, "Yahan chhua-chhut kya pehle se hain ya abhi hain."
Jitu, 20, is an engineering student and the only educated member of the family. He said that since there were no work avenues they were engaged in the business of skinning skin of dead animals for the tanneries.
Jitu said: , "We don't want money, but we wish support for sustenance and livelihood. We clear the dirt of the society and this is what we are given in return by the society."
Gandhi sat with the family and held Babubhai Sarvaiya's hand as they all became emotional. The Congress vice president shared tea with the Dalit family, something they are not used to by high-caste people.
Gandhi is also reported to have watched the video clip of the assault on the youth at the village. The clip has gone viral and the incident been widely condemned.
Gandhi later left for Rajkot city, the nerve centre of the Saurashtra region, where he was to call on Dalit youngsters undergoing treatment after their suicide attempts in the government Civil Hospital there in protest against the July 11 incident by a cow vigilante group.