Sunday, August 7, 2016

Jignesh Mevani, face of the Gujarat Dalit agitation

Since the emergence of Hardik Patel from among the Patidars and Alpesh Thakor from among the OBCs during movements in Gujarat over the last one year, the state’s Dalits have been feeling the need for a young leader of their own. And one activist has put his hand up to fill that void.Jignesh Mevani, 35, has been the face of protests by Dalits following the assault of Dalits in Una. An English literature graduate, former Gujarati journalist and serving lawyer, Mevani administered a pledge to the protesting crowds that their community will no longer do the “dirty jobs of society”.

Jignesh Mevani, 35, has been the face of protests by Dalits following the assault of Dalits in Una. An English literature graduate, former Gujarati journalist and serving lawyer, Mevani administered a pledge to the protesting crowds that their community will no longer do the “dirty jobs of society”.

Mevani agreed that he is consciously trying to fill what he calls an enormous vacuum of leadership among Dalits in Gujarat. He said he has the help of a team with members such as Kaushik Parmar, Subodh Parmar, Suresh Agja and Mahesh Parmar.“In the 1970s, a strongly radical Dalit group, Dalit Panther, came up in Gujarat. However, over the years, that organisation did not do enough to address various issues of the community,” he said. “I also feel the older generation of Dalit leaders has failed to transfer the leadership to the younger generation and because of that the struggle on economic issues has [suffered].”

“In the 1970s, a strongly radical Dalit group, Dalit Panther, came up in Gujarat. However, over the years, that organisation did not do enough to address various issues of the community,” he said. “I also feel the older generation of Dalit leaders has failed to transfer the leadership to the younger generation and because of that the struggle on economic issues has [suffered].” About the current uprising, he said, “Such a spontaneous response from the community was not seen in Gujarat even in 2012 when three Dalit youths were shot dead in Thangadh of Surendranagar by police. What is more important is that even non-Dalits and Muslims are coming out proactively to support the community this time.”

Mevani is also a spokesperson for Aam Admi Party’s Gujarat unit and he makes no secret of his political ambitions. “Two hundred per cent, I have political ambitions. And my association with AAP is an extension of my activism [over Dalit issues].” Born in December 1980, Mevani hails from Mehsana district and lives in a Dalit-dominated locality of Meghaninagar in Ahmedabad. His father, Natubhai Mevani, is a retired clerk who worked with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.

Born in December 1980, Mevani hails from Mehsana district and lives in a Dalit-dominated locality of Meghaninagar in Ahmedabad. His father, Natubhai Mevani, is a retired clerk who worked with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.Jignesh studied English literature at H K Arts College and journalism at Bhavan’s College, Ahmedabad, and worked in Mumbai for a Gujarati magazine and a Gujarati daily for around four years. Jignesh studied English literature at H K Arts College and journalism at Bhavan’s College, Ahmedabad, and worked in Mumbai for a Gujarati magazine and a Gujarati daily for around four years... Read more: