When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and wife were on their way to Sabarmati Ashram, Himanshu Sitapara, all of 25, was getting getting police phone calls and visits from police to ensure he remained at home in Viramgam in Ahmedabad district. So was Kirit Rathod of Navsarjan Trust which works for and with Dalits.
It took three days for Himanshu to file an FIR alleging abuses by a senior HR Department staffer over his Dalit identity after he was denied a job in the Japanese firm Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India Pvt Ltd in Vithalapur village, 22 km from his hometown Viramgam.
Himanshu, backed by Rathod and other Dalits, want the officer at the Vithalapur plant arrested and action against a police sub-inspector who was reluctant to take his complaint on September 9 and for two more days.
They had threatened that if action was not taken, the Dalits from the region would show black flags against Prime Minister Abe.
Himanshu said: “I want action. For me, more important than the abuses on my caste which I am accustomed to is the loss of my job. I provided all the documents and everything but I was driven out because I could not pay the bribe (the HR officer) was demanding.
“I can’t move out and so also Kiritbhai. We want to express our protest before the Japanese Prime Minister, but the police are ensuring we don’t. There is pressure on our people that we had it if we try anything.”
Hired for his ITI diploma in welding and cutting, Himanshu got the job at the Honda plant as a technical assistant but was asked to pay Rs 5,000 to the HR officer.
“When I told him I didn’t have that kind of money, he started abusing me… He used Gujarati expletives… He drove me out and asked me to find a sweeper’s job somewhere which, according to him, suited me better.”
The police have started investigations under a Deputy Superintendent of Police in the Scheduled Castes/Schedules Tribes cell and invoked the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and Section 504 of the Indian Penal Code.