The 12,000 strong mega rally at Ahmedabad today asked Dalits to apply for fire arms en mass, as political parties "failed" to protect them
Holding their first major mega rally in Ahmedabad on Sunday, Gujarat's Dalit rights groups kept at bay major political parties, including Congress, BJP, Aam Aadmi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. The show of strength, in which thousands from Ahmedabad, Saurashtra and North Gujarat thronged to participate, was held to protest against the brutal thrashing of Dalit youths on July 11 in Una, where they were attacked by cow vigilantes. Over 40 groups participated amidst desperate attempts by a clueless Andandiben Patel government to contain the. As a last ditch effort the government had tried to cut down the size of the crowd by restricting it to a ground that officially could hold only 5,000 people. Yet the crowd was significantly larger.
Calling for the rejection of the Gujarat model which allegedly seeks to "encourage" atrocities" against Dalits, the organizers – under the umbrella body Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti – admitted that they kept political parties away as they have "failed" to give any justice to the Dalits. These political parties were merely interested in taking political advantage of the Una event against the backdrop of the forthcoming elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, where Dalits form 26 and 21 per cent of the voters, as against Gujarat's just 6.7 per cent. More than 12,000 people attended the 'Maha Sammelan' today.
"Dalit youths who have been protesting against the Una atrocity have been arrested under false charges. We demand dropping of those charges or else protesters in more numbers would hit the streets in Ahmedabad," warned Dalit activist Jignesh Mewani. With state elections in Gujarat due in just over a year from now, the raging protests are snowballing into a major worry for the state government.
On a day a Dalit man, who had attempted suicide to protest the thrashing of four Dalit tannery workers by self-styled cow vigilantes in Gujarat earlier this month, died, members of the community organized a large congregation in Ahmedabad to send a message to the state government. "I was pained by the attack but I'm elated today that the pain that has been inflicted on my family has brought together the entire Dalit community," said Jeetu Sarvaiyas to NDTV, whose brother was among the four men attacked in Una, over
The rally began about one-and-a-half hours late, at 1 pm, as the ground got filled with rainwater at several spots and the stage had to be shifted. A Dalit BJP corporator, present at the in her individual capacity alleged that the spot was allocated to ensure that the rally failed to succeed. "The cops picketing on the highway at several spots created hurdles and did not allow Dalits in trucks to enter Ahmedabad", she said.
Held at a little-known ground near Torrent Power Plant in Ahmedabad's after the cops kept the rally organizer guessing for several days about the required permission, the star attraction at the rally were the family members of three Dalits who died in Thangadh police firing in Gujarat's Surendrangar district in 2012. Several Muslims activists also participated. There were slogans at the meet such as "Hindu-Muslim keta zindabad" and "Dalit-Muslim ekta zindabad". On July 27, 2016 in a unique moment, Dalits held a silent rally depreciating the politics of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS)/Vishwa Hindu Parishad(VHP) at Naroda Patiya, the scene of a massacre of about 126 Muslims on February 28, 2002.
The final permission for the rally was given on Saturday afternoon, that too for 5,000 people, after the cops rejected the organizers' plea to hold the rally near the district collector's office in Ahmedabad citing “security reasons.” Addressing the rally, Jignesh Mevani, convener of the Ahmedabad rally, said, "The state government and police had been trying to prevent Dalits from uniting and coming under one banner, but considering the anger and mood of Dalits, police had to surrender and allow us to hold the event".
Mevani, who is a young Dalit rights advocate, also called upon the Dalits to stop scavenging dead animals and manual enter into the gutters to clean it. "We must apply to for licensed firearms to protect ourselves, as the government has failed to do it", he said. He added, "What would you expect from a government which has failed to even charge sheet the accused in the Thangadh police firing? You cannot expect justice for Una either. We want the government to institute anti-atrocities Act against the Una culprits."
A charter of demands for Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel announced at the mega rally included quickly arresting those who attacked Una Dalits as per provisions of Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) Act, so that the attackers were not set freely unless reviewed by a High Court committee, and arresting all those who are seen thrashing the Dalits in the videos that went viral, as also the cops and the sarpanch knew of and were “involved”.
Referring to the controversial 2012 police attack on Dalits that killed three persons in Thangad area of Surendranagar, speakers at the rally complained that nothing can be expected from a government that has not even filed a chargesheet. Family members of the three were present. They demanded that the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act should be invoked against the culprits in the July 11 thrashing of Dalit youths by self-proclaimed cow vigilantes for skinning of dead cows.
They have rallied under the banner of 'Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti' (Una Dalit Fight against Atrocities Committee), with Mevani as the convenor.The demands further insisting on providing alternative employment those Dalits who give up the “undignified” job of skinning dead animals, and the to safai karmacharis engaged in “inhuman” job of manual scavenging, and providing housing units to Dalits in urban areas, because they are even today “socially boycotted, discriminated against and exploited socially, economically and sexually in Gujarat's villages.
“We want the chief minister to discuss these issues across the table with Dalits. Till our demands are met, the demonstrations across Gujarat will continue. If the chief minister could meet the Patidar leaders, why can't she meet us?”, asked Mevani.
The BJP government in Gujarat appeared fearful of the political fallout of mahasammelan. Chief minister Anandiben Patel appealed for peace, saying, with reference to the rally, “People with with vested political interests are trying to divide communities and disrupt peace in state."
The heavy police deployment at the spot of the rally under DCP , who included four ACPs, 10 inspectors, 20 sub-inspectors, five woman sub-inspectors, 175 ASI to constables, two companies of State Reserve Police (SRP) and two platoons of woman SRP company. In addition, were riot control vehicles, quick response teams, CCTV cameras and videographers.
Jignesh Mevani’s Facebook post, makes a powerful statement,
જે ગૌવ રક્ષકો એ દલીતસમાજ ના ભાઈ ઓ ઉપર જુલમ ગુજારર્યો છે.તેમને પુરો સબક આપવો એ પણ દેશ નો ધર્મ છે. ગૌવરક્ષકો કાન ખુલ્લા રાખીને સાભળે……….
ગૌવરક્ષકો જયારે તમારી માંયુ ભુખે મરતી ઉકરડા ઉપર ચડી ને પોલીથીન કચરો નર્ક ખાય સે એ વખતે કયા સુપાય જાવશો એ નથી દેખાતુ. માંયુ ભૂખે મરે છે.
ગૌવરક્ષકો તમારી માંયુ મરી જાયશે ત્યારે તેની વિધ્ધી પુર્વક કિર્યા કર્મ કેમ નથી કરતા. તને અજ્ઞી સંસ્કાર કેમ નથી આપતા. અજ્ઞી સંસ્કાર આપો કોણ ના પાળે છે.
જે કરવાનુ છે એ નથી કરવુ. ખોટા નાટક કરવાના.
જેણે ખોટા નાટક કર્યાશે તેમને દલિત સંધ ને સોપી દો. સરકાર થી કાય ના થઈ સકતુ હોય તો અમે તેમ ને ધર્મ નો પાટ ભણાવી દઈશુ.
ગાય તમારી મા એકની નથી. સૌવ હિન્દુ ની માતશેે. તે હાલી નિકળ્યા છે.
ધર્મની આડમા ખોટુ કરે સે તે ધર્મ જોડવાનુ નહી ધર્મ તોડવાનુ કામ કરી રહયા છે. તે આતંકીથી કમ નથી. તેમને એવી સજા આપવી જોઈએ કે કોઈ આવી બીજી ભુલ ના કરે.