'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
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Sunday, July 31, 2016
Gujarat Dalits put BJP govt on notice, protest march to reach Una on Independence Day
flogging of a Dalit family by gau rakshaks in Una for skinning
a dead cow, thousands of Dalits gathered in Ahmedabad Sunday where community
leaders put the BJP-led
government in Gujarat on notice ahead of the 2017 assembly polls. Seeking strong
measures to check atrocities against them, leaders asked Dalits to give up
disposing dead cattle and stop cleaning sewers to “send a strong message” to
the state government.
They announced a march
from Ahmedabad to Una between August 5 and August 15. They said they plan to
gather in Una on August 15 to observe and “feel independence” there. The Dalit Maha
Sammelan in the Sabarmati area of Ahmedabad, organised by Una Dalit Atyachar
Ladat Samiti (UDALS), flagged several pending Dalit issues, including justice
in the Thangadh killing of three Dalit youths in 2012.
Valji Rathod, father of
one of the three youths killed in Thangadh of Surendranagar district, declared
he would sit on a hunger strike in Gandhinagar from Monday. Addressing the
gathering, UDALS convener Jignesh Mevani, raising what he said were unresolved
legal and constitutional issues of Dalits in Gujarat, said: “This government
believes in Daliton ka Utpidan, Daliton ka Vinash (persecution and annihilation
of Dalits) and not in Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.”
Referring to Union
Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s
statement that Prime MinisterNarendra Modi was
very hurt and upset over the Una incident, Mevani told the gathering: “I want
to ask Rajnathji, if during his governance in Gujarat (between 2001 and 2014),
did Modi visit a single Dalit family of Gujarat which faced atrocity? If the
answer is yes, we will wind up our protest programme.”
“To give a strong
message to the government, I urge all Dalits to discontinue the work of
disposing dead animals. I also want you to take a pledge of discontinuing the
work of cleaning sewer lines. We no longer wish to do this work and want the
government to allot agriculture land to us, so that we can live a respectable
life,” he said. “If atrocities on Dalits do not stop, we will show our strength
in the 2017 assembly polls,” he said.
several issues which he said concerned Dalits: enactment of Reservation Act to
fill the backlog of reserved vacancies, absence of exclusive criminal courts
for trial of atrocity cases, criminal prosecution of Una police officers
for criminal negligence in the flogging case, utilisation of funds under the
Scheduled Caste (SC) sub-plan and Scheduled Tribe (ST) sub-plan via enactment
of a special legislation, actual allocation of surplus land to landless Dalits
under provisions of the Agriculture Land Ceiling Act. He demanded a public
apology from the Gujarat government for withdrawing a book on Dr B R Ambedkar.
He said criminal cases filed against Dalits recently in different parts of the
state should be withdrawn.
Some family members of
the victims in Thangadh and Una also addressed the gathering. Among them were
Jitu Sarvaiya and Keval Rathod from Mota Samadhiyala. They are related to Balu
Sarvaiya who, along with six of his family members, was flogged by gau
rakshaks on July 11.
activists like Valjibhai Patel, Nitin Gurjar, Chandu Maheriya, Jayanti Makadia,
Manjula Pradeep and Ratna Vora joined the gathering. Also present were Nirzari
Sinha, wife of the late rights activist and lawyer Mukul Sinha, former Gujarat
cadre IPS officer Rahul Sharma, folk singers Charul-Vinay and advocate Shamshad
Pathan. Mufti Abdul Qayyum Mansuri, acquitted in the Akshardham terror attack
case, too was there.
A number of Muslim
youths also joined the gathering with the message of Dalit-Muslim unity. Some
leaders of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind Gujarat too were present. In fact, the proposal
to march from Ahmedabad to Una came from Rahul Sharma. “Let us have a march
from Ahmedabad to Una and feel independence at Una on August 15. I am ready.
This social awakening should not be limited to this sammelan,” Sharma said.