BOTAD: Eight persons were arrested in Botad district of Gujarat Thursday for allegedly killing the husband of a Dalit sarpanch.
Manjibhai Solanki (51), the resident of Jalia village, was beaten to death on Ranpur-Barvala road in the district Wednesday.
His wife Geeta Solanki is the sarpanch of Jalia.
Manjibhai himself was a member of the gram panchayat and served as deputy sarpanch.
Though eight out of the nine accused named in the first information report (FIR) were arrested, Solanki's family refused to claim his body, kept at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital since Wednesday evening.
Those who were arrested were identified as Ashok Khachar (51), Pratap Khachar (38), Ruturaj Khachar (22), Raviraj Khachar (25), Hardip Khachar (21), Kishor Khachar (30), Bhagirath Khachar (24) and Vanraj Khachar(42).
Police have formed teams to nab Jilu Khachar who is on the run, said Inspector General of Police Ashok Kumar Yadav.
Solanki's son Tushar said the accused killed his father when he was returning home from Barvala on a motorbike.
The accused, travelling in a car, allegedly first knocked down Solanki's motorbike and then beat him with sticks and pipes.
He was declared brought dead at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.
As per the FIR, the victim and his wife had sought police protection last year, claiming that the accused could harm them as Solanki had lodged complaints against some of them in the past.
In a letter written to the state Director General of Police (Law and Order) in June last year, Solanki had claimed that there was a threat to his and his family members' lives.
He was given police protection in March 2018 but it was withdrawn within two months, he had said in the letter.
Tushar Solanki and other family members refused to claim his body Thursday, saying the government must accept their demands first.
Tushar claimed that the accused had attacked his family at least four times since 2010.
"These cases are still pending before a court in Botad. These accused had a grudge against my family because my father had refused to withdraw the complaints," he said.
"Mere arrest is not enough. We want the government to provide us round-the-clock police protection. I and my uncle should be given a gun license. We also want the government to transfer those four cases and the case of my father's murder to a court in Ahmedabad. Until these demands are met, we will not collect my father's body," he said.
Gujarat minister for social justice Ishwar Parmar said his department was discussing the matter with the home department.
"Government is looking at these demands with an open mind," he said.