Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Intelligence officials seek details of Dalit padyatra, as organizers object to being termed "red revolutionaries"

Dalit rally in Botad town
By Our Representative
Intelligence officials, attached with the Gujarat government's home department as also the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, have begun a frantic attempt to find out the “antecedents” of those leading the Ahmedabad-Una padyatra (foot march), seeking oath from Dalit community leaders to take a pledge not to ever lift dead cattle, a caste-based occupation.
The protest padyatra is in response to cow vigilantes violently bashing up four Dalit boys on July 11 in Una, a small town in Saurashtra region of Gujarat. The boys were “punished” skinning dead cattle. Begun on August 5, the padyatra will have covered 350 kilometres on reaching Una on August 15.
These officials, it is learned, are seeking find out “sources” of support to the leaders of the padyatra, especially if they are “red revolutionaries”. A few of the officials have frequentes some NGO offices, too, to make queries. Sources say, it is highly unlikely that these inquiries are being made without instructions from the top.
Amidst intelligence queries, one of the top organizers of the padyatra has accused what he terms a “group of keyboard warriors” for running “a campaign against the Una movement” in a desperate attempts to paint it as “one that has been 'corrupted' by the presence of certain people who have been branded as 'red revolutionaries' and the claim is that these 'red revolutionaries' are here to grab credit for the movement.”
Without naming “keyboard warriors”, Pratik Sinha, a young human rights campaigner from Ahmedabad, has said a social media post has said, “This bunch of keyboard warriors specifically have an issue about me clicking pictures”, wondering, why don't they take the next flight, get their camera, and document the struggle instead of “whining away” at the keyboards.
Referring the to the padyatris “2000-3000 strong meeting in Botad”, a town about 150 kilometres from Ahmedabad, Sinha says those who spoke there included a local leader who is part of the Botad Dalit Samaj, but just because references to Mayawati, he “seemed to be associated” her Bahujan Samaj Party.
The second speaker was Martin Macwan, founder of Dalit rights NGO Navsarjan Trust with “a long history as a Dalit leader.”
Then there was Jignesh Mevani, “the face of the movement”, a “young Dalit leader and lawyer, fighting land cases for Dalits”. Sinha adds, “He is the main convener of Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti. Every single main stream media organization has recognized him as the face and profiled him.”
Others who spoke included Subodh Parmar, co-convener of Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti; Bhavna Chawda, a women's dalit leader whose influence is from Barwala to Botad region, the area that the padyatris had already traveled; and Manisha Mashaal, women's Dalit leader from Haryana.
Among prominent participants was Rahul Sharma, former IPS officer, “who saved 400 kids in a madrasa in Bhavnagar in 2002 riots, and was the one who collected the phone numbers in a CD, an evidence which was largely responsible for the conviction of Maya Kodnani.”
Also present was Nirjhari Sinha, Pratik Sinha's mother with him. According to Sinha, both are “members of Jan Sangharsh Manch, are accompanying the entire 10 day rally”, adding, “My mother has a lot of organizational experience having been part of various struggles since 1979. She lends her experience to this movement since a lot of the leaders are rather young and are part of such a movement for the first time in their life.”

No comments: