Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Gujarat Dalits rally against tougher cow slaughter law, ask 182 MLAs to punish those forcing cows to consume plastics

By Our Representative
In a unique protest in Gujarat’s Surendranagar town, Dalit rights activists on Wednesday handed over 182 bottles filled with plastics taken out of cows’ carcasses to the district collector, who was told to give these to each of the 182 MLAs of the state, asking them to explain to them as to who should be held responsible for the death of these cows.
The protest follows anger among sections of Dalits over the Gujarat state assembly passing a law having the punishment of life imprisonment to anyone found guilty of cow slaughter. Last year, four Dalits youths were tied with chains attached to an SUV and thrashed in a procession in Una town on suspicion cow slaughter, though they were involved in their hereditary job of skinning dead cows.
Natubhai Parmar, handing over plaque
Led by Natubhai Parmar of the Navnirman Trust, a local people’s organization, the bottled were handed over to the district collector along with a memorandum on a gold-coloured plaque after Dalit representatives from 12 states and several Gujarat districts took out a five kilometre long rally of a cow replica, whose belly carried 182 kg of plastics.
The plastics, said the organizers, was taken out of cows’ carcasses by Dalit skinners. Carried on a truck, the cow replica followed a tractor with four bundles of plastics, also said to have been taken out of dead cows’ bellies, dangling on a wooden structure for people to see. “Each bundle weighs between 25 and 35 kg”, Parmar, with mike in his hand, explained on busy Surendranagar streets to the people who would gather to listen to him.
Shot into prominence in August 2016 after he dumped truckloads of cow carcasses in front of the district collector’s office, telling officials to “dispose them of” as Dalit cow skinners belonging to the Rohit community were being branded as cow slaughterers in Gujarat and were being beaten up, this was Parmar’s second unusual protest in less than a year’s time.
Handing over 182 bottled and the plaque to a district official, Parmar said, “We want the Gujarat government to provide enough grazing land to the cows so that they do not die by consuming plastics. A thousand times more cows dies on consuming plastics than by cow slaughter. Most of the grazing land has been handed over to industrialists, and cows have been left to die eating plastics.”
Parmar warned, “If the state government does not announce any plan to return grazing land to the cows in accordance with the norm it has fixed per cow within a month, we will be obliged to start another round of protests – this time by bringing abandoned cows, found on streets, to government offices, where they should be taken care.”
Bottles with cow carcasses
“Cows do not want to be called mother. They do not need cow vigilantes protection. They need their grazing lands back”, he added.
A surprised Gujarat government official, identified as additional district collector, who took the gold-coloured plaque from Parmar along with 182 bottles, told someone whom he met later, “It’s a good idea to send the plastics to all MLAs. They must know that stricter laws of lifetime imprisonment for cow slaughter shouldn’t just apply to those who eat beef. It should also apply to those who have made the cows to consume plastics, along with the leftover of food.”
Gujarat’s largest Dalit rights NGO Navsarjan Trust founder Martin Macwan, who backed Parmar’s unique protest, said, “More such programmes are being planned in other districts, starting with Rajkot and Bhavnagar.” He added, “Those who have joined in the rally here with placards in their hands having names of MLAs to be handed over the bottles are from Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Patan, Junagardh, Surendranagar, Ahmedabad and Bharuch districts.”

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