Monday, August 15, 2016

Gujarat Dalit flogging victim receives death threat, as protesters reach Una town for rally amidst stone pelting

Sarvaiya (right)
By Our Representative
Amidst news coming in that the Dalit Asmita Yatra has reached Una on August 14 evening through “an alternative route” because people from some of the nearby villages pelted stones on those reaching the town for an Independence Day rally, the family of Balubhai Sarvaiya has received a fresh threat that he would not be spared for “killing” a cow.
Four youths of the Dalit community's Rohit (chamar) caste, belonging to the Sarvaiya family and from Mota Samadhiyala village, were flogged after tying them with an SUV on July 11 for skinning a dead cow. The event, which went viral on social media, has triggered a major outrage in Gujarat, with radical sections of Dalits holding the Asmita Yara from Ahmedabad to Una.
The letter to Sarvaiya said that he and his family would be “burnt alive” because they were not involved in skinning a dead cattle, but had killed a living cow. “You are into the business of selling beef, which we cannot tolerate at any cost”, the hand-written letter, sent to his address of Harijan Vas (Dalit locality) in Mota Samadhiyala said.
The threatening letter which Sarvaiya received
“You should have understood as to why you were beaten up and put inside the jail”, the letter tells Sarvaiya, adding, “Yet it seems that your eyes have not opened. Time has come to break apart your legs and hands... You have been kept alive because you need to be taught a lesson.”
Called “march for freedom”, according to sources, villagers from certain villages continued to stone the Dalits who were in the buses going to Una. This continued for 45 minutes. The stone throwing was alleged to have been undertaken by those belonging to dominant castes.
One such village is Santej. It is the same village where multiple accused of the Una incident reside, said Pratik Sinha, one of the rally organizers. Rahul Sharma, former IPS official who gave the idea of the 350 km long yatra, which began in Ahmedabad, advised people not to come on the route passing through Santej, as it was blocked by dominant castee people.
Around 500-600 people pelted stones about 12 kilometres from Una”, added Mujahit Nafees, an Ahmedabad-based social activist who was on his way to Una to participate in the rally. “Even children and women were part of those who were seeking to throw stones. Those pelting stones were shouting “Gay Mata Ki Jai” (hail the mother cow) slogans. When we tried to take photographs, we were threatened”, Nafees added.
A Dalit protester injured during stone pelting
Well-known Delhi-based social activist Shabnam Hashmi, who is in direct touch with Dalit activists reaching Una, has warned ahead of the rally, which is also termed as Azadi Kooch or March for Freedom, that “the situation is not good.”
Quoting Rama Naga, general secretary, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), who was on way to Una, she said in a social media post, she says, “The people who do not want this march to happen are attacking media persons and other citizens who are going in solidarity. All the buses staffs both private and government are instructed not to carry any passenger who are from other belts (by language) and going to Una.”
Naga is quoted as saying, “We were refused by many buses to get on for Una. The last bus to Una (which did not tell us that it is going to Una even after we asked the conductor, but we got to know from other passengers) just arrived, and when we took the bus, the conductor informed some other officers that five people are going to Una.”
“We request everyone to inform other friends to take cautious, who are on their way to Una”, Naga said. Meanwhile, attack on the Dalits refusing to lift dead cows continued unabated across Gujarat. Raju Solanki, a senior activist from Ahmedabad, reported that in Mopal village near Okha town in Jamnagar district, Dalits were beaten up for refusing to scavenge cattle.

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