Kartik Bhil's Family: Rajasthan's Lengthiest Battle for Justice, a 9-Month Saga of Struggle!

Kartik Bhil's journey from being an advocate for the downtrodden to a victim of a gruesome murder leaves us with pressing questions about why he was silenced and who benefited from his demise? The family, comprising elderly parents, a young widow, and two children, has been steadfastly protesting for an arduous nine months, far removed from the comfort of their home. Recently, a ray of hope emerged as Rajkumar Roat, an MLA from the tribal community and his supporters, came to the family's side.
The persistent sit-in protest outside the Sirohi Collectorate, lasting for months, paints a stark picture of the family's struggle.
The persistent sit-in protest outside the Sirohi Collectorate, lasting for months, paints a stark picture of the family's struggle.

Sirohi: This marks perhaps the lengthiest battle any family in Rajasthan has endured. It is the story of an elderly man, a young widow, and two young children who have been staging protests for a gruelling nine months, far from the comfort of their home. They are the kin of Kartik Bhil, an activist brutally attacked in November 2022. Tragically, Kartik succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in Gujarat's Mehsana on December 1.

What adds an eerie twist to this narrative is the inexplicable absence of an FIR being filed on behalf of the family. In a stark contrast to the generosity showered upon the aggrieved kin in the highly publicized Kanhaiyalal Murder case in Udaipur, Kartik Bhil's family has neither received justice nor a fair compensation. Their enduring sit-in protest outside the Sirohi Collectorate, which has persisted for months, paints a stark picture of their struggle. Despite their unflagging determination, it seems that their pleas for justice have fallen on deaf ears, leaving this family in a state of profound despair.

Kartik Bhil  was a relentless advocate for justice, particularly for Dalits and tribals facing atrocities across the state.
Kartik Bhil was a relentless advocate for justice, particularly for Dalits and tribals facing atrocities across the state.

Kartik Bhil's Advocacy

Kartik Bhil, also known as Kantilal Bhil, served as the District President of All India Tribal Development Council Youth Cell, Sirohi. He was a relentless advocate for justice, particularly for Dalits and tribals facing atrocities across the state. His father, Kapuram, recalls Kartik's dedication to the society, stating, "Kartik always said that he was born for the society. His every breath was dedicated to societal justice."

Kartik's activism led to conflicts with powerful interests, and his family's ancestral house in Shivganj became a focal point. The family owned a modest Keluposh house amidst more affluent neighbours. Allegations of resentment from those who wished to acquire the property for themselves began to emerge. Despite tempting offers to relinquish their property, Kartik steadfastly defended his home. When conspiracies arose to demolish his house, Kartik stood alone against the system to save his ancestral home. Kartik's refusal despite tempting offers and political pressure, exacerbated tensions in the community.

Kartik died during treatment in a Gujarat hospital on December 1, 2022.
Kartik died during treatment in a Gujarat hospital on December 1, 2022.

Tragically, Kartik was attacked on November 19 while returning on a bike from Sirohi district headquarters. He suffered severe injuries and was rushed to Mehsana in Gujarat for treatment. Sadly, he succumbed to his injuries on December 1. His family's ordeal continued when authorities withheld Kartik's body in the hospital, only releasing it after widespread protests by Bhim Army, Bhim Sena, and other tribal and Dalit organizations. The police did not even take an FIR that Kartik's father tried to get registered many times. The disturbing question that lingers: Who stood to gain from Kartik Bhil's murder?

Family's Tireless Protest for Justice: Demands Unmet for Nine Months

Kartik's father's attempts to file an FIR were thwarted under political pressure. The family's quest for justice has been further marred by police reluctance to apprehend all the accused in Kartik Bhil's murder case. While four named individuals were arrested, the identities of four masked assailants remain undisclosed.

Early this year, Kartik Bhil's family and other supporters gathered at the Sirohi district headquarters on January 8 to demand justice and the arrest of the main suspects in his murder, a protest that has been ongoing for 9 months now. Regrettably, the administration resorted to harassing Kartik's family instead of addressing their grievances.

The administration dismantled the protective coverings that the family had erected to shield their young children from the scorching sun.
The administration dismantled the protective coverings that the family had erected to shield their young children from the scorching sun.

At the location where the family had been protesting , an unsettling incident unfolded when the road lights were suddenly turned off. When the family raised concerns about the deliberate act, it escalated the harassment they were already enduring. Reportedly acting on the orders of the District Collector, the Tehsildar and a contingent of police personnel descended upon the protest site near Kartik's family one afternoon.

Kartik's brother, Praveen, described how pressure was exerted to forcibly remove the protective coverings they had erected to shield their innocent children from the scorching sun. Despite pleading with folded hands, the authorities remained unyielding. Praveen emphasized their commitment to their protest and their determination to continue sitting at the same location. When the Tehsildar requested written permission for the protest, family members pointed out that it was the police and administration who had relocated them there in December 2022. They had been occupying the site continuously since.

In a bold assertion, Karthik's brother, Praveen, alleged that they were being targeted at the behest of the Chief Minister's advisor and the regional MLA, Sanyam Lodha. He asserted that Karthik's murder was directly linked to their land in Shivganj, and under the MLA's influence, the police were shielding the perpetrators. Now, even the family is facing torment under the instructions of this influential leader. Allegations of harassment under the influence of powerful political figures have further exacerbated the family's plight, highlighting the challenges marginalized communities face in their quest for justice and equality in Rajasthan.

The tearful eyes of Kartik's elderly father would moisten at night, only to dry up with the first rays of dawn, ensuring that the flame of hope remained alive in the eyes of Kartik's wife and innocent grandchildren. Now, once more, the tribal community has raised its collective voice in solidarity with Kartik Bhil's family, but the effectiveness of this outcry in securing justice for the family remains uncertain.

MLA Rajkumar Roat and members of tribal community staged a mass protest at Sirohi Collectorate on 26 Spetember.
MLA Rajkumar Roat and members of tribal community staged a mass protest at Sirohi Collectorate on 26 Spetember.

The Demands, the Ultimatum, and the MLA's Roar

Leading this charge, Rajkumar Roat, an MLA and member of the newly founded Bharat Adiwaasi Party (BAP) expressed solidarity with the family at their protest site. During a panchayat meeting recently, discussions revolved around the injustices heaped upon Kartik Bhil's family. Following this, MLA Roat, along with Jitu Bhil from Jodhpur and other tribal community leaders, engaged with the district administration. They presented a set of demands on behalf of the family:

  1. Arrest of all remaining accused in the Kartik Bhil murder case.

  2. Financial assistance of Rs 50 lakh for his family.

  3. Employment for Kartik Bhil's widow.

  4. A permanent government job to secure the future of Kartik's children.

  5. Reconstruction of Kartik's house in Shivganj Manshavali and the issuance of a lease for the ancestral property.

The administration has been given five days to respond to these demands, with MLA Rajkumar Roat warning of a massive agitation if the demands remained unaddressed beyond the stipulated time.

Speaking at the occassion, MLA Rajkumar Roat stated, "In Rajasthan, the underprivileged people in regions like Sirohi, Barmer, and Jalore are treated as sub humans. The law's enforcement and the delivery of justice appear to bend towards the rich and the caste system. Kartik Bhil was a victim of political patronage. Attempts were made to silence the family's demands, but they have not wavered. We will fight for justice alongside the family until our last breath."

As we unravel the layers of Kartik Bhil's story, many questions remain unanswered. Who orchestrated Kartik's murder? Who benefits from his silence? What role does the disputed land play in this tragedy? These are questions that demand answers as we seek to uncover the truth behind this heart-wrenching tale of a family's struggle for justice and the mysteries surrounding Kartik Bhil's tragic fate.

Injustice Prevails: The Plight of Marginalized Communities in Rajasthan

As Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot makes promises of relief for the common people, a stark contrast emerges when one looks at the tribals, Dalits, Muslims, and backward communities who continue to suffer without receiving the justice they so desperately seek. Two prominent cases that illustrate this glaring disparity are the murders of Kartik Bhil in Sirohi and Nasir-Junaid in Ghatmika, Bharatpur. In both instances, the families of the victims have tirelessly called for justice and the apprehension of the culprits, yet their pleas remain unheeded. Instead of receiving support, these families face relentless harassment at the hands of the administration.

In a bid to woo voters ahead of the assembly elections, while the Chief Minister may promise relief, it is evident that true justice remains elusive for those who need it most, as they grapple not only with the loss of their loved ones but also with continued harassment and neglect by the very authorities sworn to protect them.

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