Thursday, June 08, 2017

Gujarat Dalit activists display 125 kg soap to "cleanse" UP CM's mindset amidst BJP "threat" to stop campaign

Una Dalit flogging victim Ramesh Sarvaiya displayed
 his small soap along with the 125 kg one  
By Our Representative
Gujarat Dalits under the leadership of well-known social activist Martin Macwan on Thursday displayed a 125 kg soap in Ahmedabad, which would be sent to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who late last month amidst major controversy over met Dalits in Kushanagar after they were handed over soaps and shampoos to “come clean” to meet him.
Talking with newspersons, Macwan, who returned from a public meeting in Kadi in North Gujarat, said, “We want to tell Adityanath that he has insulted Dalits. It is an insult to the memory of Gautam Buddha, too, who 2500 years ago accepted a manual scavenger, Sumit, as his follower, thus becoming the first person in India to reject untouchability. And it is an insult to Kushanagar, where the Buddha acquired Nirvana.”
Two academics, Pravin Mishra and Suman Kaur, engraved Gautam Buddha’s image on the soap as a reminder to Yogi that he needs to cleanse himself from within instead of asking Dalits to “come clean” to meet him.
Martin Macwan addresses media as 
The soap is of 125 kg to coincide with the 125th birth anniversary of Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar, who fought against untouchability all his life.
Also present on the occasion was Ramesh Sarvaiya, one of the four young Dalits who was severely flogged by hand of cow vigilantes in Una on July 11, 2016 on suspicion of cow slaughter. Currently undertaking training at Macwan-run Dalit Shakti Kendra near Sanand in Ahmedabad district, Sarvaiya displayed a small soap on which he had engraved the Buddha.
“This soap will also be sent to the Uttar Pradesh chief minister. It would remind him against the untouchability practice which he adopted”, Sarvaiya proudly told newspersons. "It this type of yellow soap which we use to take our bath in our village", he added.
Heading Gujarat’s biggest Dalit rights NGO Navsarjan Trust, under Macwan’s directions, Dalit rights activists belong to 20-odd grassroots organizations have so far held four public meetings to “remind” Dalit MLAs and MPs of Gujarat that they were essentially elected to highlight the community’s mood and aspiration, asking them why were they silent on atrocities on Dalits.
Natubhai Parmar, one of the senior
Dalit campaigners
“We have handed over representations to Rajya Sabha MP Shambhunath Tundiya and MLAs of Rajkot, Gadhada and Kadi. Gadhada MLA, Atmaram Parmar, a minister in the Gujarat Cabinet, decided not to remain present to take our demands”, said Kirit Rathod, of the top activists who is behind the campaign asking Dalit public representatives to stop selling Dr Ambedkar for political gains.
“The representations were received not without threats. In Ahmedabad, when we went to seek an appointment from Lok Sabha's BJP MP Kirit Solanki to hand him our list of demands, he threatened us of dire consequences if we did not stop our campaign. He told us that he represented 17 lakh people, he is not obliged to accept our list of demands”, said Kantilal Parmar, one of the activists.
“The soap, which is 2.5 kg high and 1.6 feet long, would be sent to Yogi after June 16 when our campaign ends”, said Macwan announced, adding, “We have decided to work out modus operandi on how to send the soap soon. But we have tied up with Uttar Pradesh Dalit groups, who would address a press conference to display the soap and hand it over to Yogi.”

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