Monday, September 19, 2016

JIgnesh Mevani detained in Ahmedabad second time in a week as he led Dalit rasta roko protest for land rights

By Our Representative
Top Dalit rights activist Jignesh Mevani, convener of the Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti, along with his activist-colleagues and residents of Saroda village of Dholka taluka of Ahmedabad district, was detained in Ahmedabad immediately after he led a pre-announced “rasta rook” (road block) agitation, near the busy Road Transport Office (RTO) Circle in the city.
This was the second detention of Mevani in less than a week’s time. Earlier on September 16, he was picked up (click HERE) from the Ahmedabad airport evening as he returned from Delhi after attending a Dalit rally, addressed, among others, by senior Communist leader Sitaram Yechury and Dr BR Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar.
Addressing the rally at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, Mevani declared all-India protest against “failure” of governments, Central and state, to provide land to Dalits, starting at Maninagar in Ahmedabad. Maninagar is the former assembly constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Gujarat government apprehended he would create trouble at meetings organized in honour of Modi on the latter’s birthday, September 17. Mevani was detained for the whole night, and was put under police vigil till Modi left Gujarat.
Mevani and his colleagues, who were protesting against the “failure” of the Gujarat government to provide five acres land to each Dalit family as demanded by him at Una on August 15, were taken to the Police Stadium. The protest was organized in front of the Ahmedabad district collector’s office, situated next to RTO.
Giving reasons for staging the protest, a statement issued by organizers of Samiti, formed in the wake of the gruesome Una flogging incident of July 11, said, “For more than ten years now, Dalit families in Saroda have been struggling and fighting for possession of land allotted to them. A ten year old struggle, they no longer have any patience left.”
The “rasta roko” agitation began at 11 am, against the announced time of 9.00 am, under the banner of Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, in front of the RTO. “It left the left the government and police panting”, said a participant. Among those who were detained included women, who had come from Saroda village. “The police roughed them up with no mercy”, the participant claimed.
As they were being detained, one of the women angrily said, “We will not sit quietly and tolerate what you've been doing to us for decades, we have nothing to lose, never have you given us any dignity, now we will not stop till we get our land."
One woman fainted during the protest. Mevani said, ambulance be called. Instead, she was "dragged out", he added.
Meanwhile, Alpesh Thakor, convenor of OBC-SC-ST Ekta Manch, has decided to extend “symbolic” support to Mevani’s announcement for a “rail roko” (stop train) agitation by pulling chains across India on October 1.
Leader from the Other Backward Class (OBC) Thakore community, Alpesh has organised multiple OBC unity rallies in Ahmedabad. He declared this following a recent meeting with Mevani in Ahmedabad.
“We are 78 per cent in Gujarat. And in spite of that, they are the ones sitting in the government and doing injustice to us. And that’s why I have come to request you, I have come with a social organisation, we have come for the social change”, Alpesh said.

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