From the morning of Sunday, August 14, triple attacks by alleged Gau Rakshaks (Cow protectors) on Dalits and others arriving at Una for the massive demonstration scheduled for Independence Day, August 15, 2016 showed that even now a month and four days after the despicable Una atrocity, the assaulters are digging their heals in. In Gujarat. As the authorities and police watch on. Reports from different parts of the state also suggest that the authorities are policing all those set to join the march at Una, with bus conductors being roped in to 'inform' the police.
It all began on the morning of Sunday, August 14 at Samter leading to an appeal being sent out in the thousands by What’s App, in Gujarati, by the Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti, “For all those converging at Una on the #Chalo Una Call, the organizers are issuing this fervent appeal: Please take Full Precautions and do not come via Samter.” Samter was where the first brute attacks, using lathis on the head and feet, took place. As the police watched.
By the evening, the organisers including Mehul Chavda who spoke to Sabrangindia at about 11 p.m., had made several trips to the police station. “There have been at least seven to eight persons injured in the brutal attacks on dalits by non-Dlits, the so-called Gau Rakshaks,” Mehul said. “Lathis have been used by the attackers, many are in the clinics/hospitals. One person has his eyes bleeding with the lathi blows, the other has his ears bleeding. The first attacks took place on Dalits arriving to Una from Thangadh and Bolidar,” he added.
Late on Sunday evening, the eve of India's 70th Independence Day, President Pranab Mukherjee made a strong pitch against polarisation of the polity and stated that attacks against the 'weaker' sections' should be dealt with firmly. This is the fifth time in two and a half years that the President and the Vice President have had to publicly reprimand or caution the party in power against the growing physical attacks across the country.
Photos taken by Leader of the Dalit Rally, Mehul Chavda in and outside the Una police station
Late into the night, the Gujarat police, living upto to its reputation of inaction had refused to register even an FIR despite brute injuries during the attacks. One attack took place on the morning of Sunday and two attacks, consecutively, one after another in the late evening of Sunday. At the end of the day the total number of persons who have suffered severe injuries could be 12. The name of one injured person is Amit and another is Grishma who is associated with the web portal, dalit Camera.
For the past ten days, from August 5 onwards when the March was launched at Ahmedabad, it has drawn huge and enthusiastic support. Village after village in Gujarat has pledged to end decades and centuries old slavery and indignity and sworn to abandon an occupation that is demeaning and exclusive.
For the rally at Una tomorrow, Dalit activists from Mumbai, Hyderabad and Delhi are slated to join. Radhika Vemula, mother of Rohith Vemula is one of those expected to be present. Many of the young student leaders from the Jawaharlal Nehru university (JNU) too are expected to attend.
Earlier in the day, CPI-M leader and leader of the Kisan Sabha, Vijoo Krishnan arrived with many supporters at Una. He wrote, " Hundreds marched through Una defying threats from "Gau Rakshaks". Their road blocks and physical assault did not deter the Marchers. Slogans for Dalit-Muslim Unity, Workers-Peasant- Dalit Unity and to take forward the Struggle of Babasaheb Ambedkar rent the air. The most popular was obviously " गाय की दुम तुम रखो, हमें हमारी ज़मीन दो"
The March was loud and clear that dead cattle would not be lifted from now on and neither would manual scavenging be carried on with. This Struggle will have its place in history with others against caste oppression that have become part of folklore. The young leader Jignesh linked the land question with the Struggle for liberation from caste oppression and the demand for 5 acres of land for Dalits as an alternative source of livelihood has been articulated effectively. All India Kisan Sabha, AIAWU, AIDWA, SFI and Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch marched in Solidarity with Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti.
Rama Naga, General Secretary of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) said late on Sunday evening that "those who do not want this march to happen are attacking media persons and other citizens who are going in solidarity. All the buses going to Una, both those tun by private operators and those run by the state government appear to have been instructed not to carry any passengers who speak 'outside" languages. Even we, student leaders of the union, were refused seats on many buses going to Una. When we managed to get on to the last bas bound for Una, the conductor informed police officers that 'five people are going to &Una.' Hence we appeal to all those going to Una to be cautious.'"