Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Gujarat's Dalit face Mevani apologizes for abusive language: "Bold" move comes ahead of Una anniversary Azadi Kuch

By Our Representative
In what is being described as a bold and unprecedented move, top Gujarat Dalit rights leader Jignesh Mevani has publicly apologized for using choicest abuses in conservation on phone. The person on the other side, who is said to be living in Kalol, is said to have taped Mevani’s voice and floated the audio recording on a Dalit WhatsApp group and Facebook.
In his apology, which he posted on his Facebook timeline, Mevani – who shot into prominence last year for organizing and leading several Dalit rallies, including in Ahmedabad, following the cow vigilantes’ gruesome attack on four Dalit youths in Una on July 11, 2016 – said, “The audio has hurt many, as one hears the paternalistic, anti-woman abuses. Gujarat’s women are very especially upset. I publicly apologize for this.”
Mevani’s apology comes days his proposed conference in Ahmedabad on July 11, Una anniversary, followed by Freedom March, of Azadi Kuch, from July 12 to 18 July, in North Gujarat “to carry forward the legacy of the Una movement.”
The Freedom March ran into controversy soon after it was announced. Balubhai Sarvaiya, father of the four youths who were attacked a year ago in Una, said that he might not be able to attend Mevani’s rally because of personal reasons. Earlier, he has variously accused Mevani of never visiting his house in village Mota Samadhiyala near Una.
Mevani's public apology on Facebook
In his apology, which he wrote in Hindi, Mevani said, “Whatever the issue, the type of language that I have used is not only highly condemnable but also sub-standard”, adding, “I will make sure that I do not use such type language ever in my life ever.”
“I will also put an end to any paternalistic and anti-woman thought that comes to my mind”, he said. Referring one of the greatest pioneers of Dalit women’s rights, Mevani adds, “It doesn’t particularly augur well for a person like me, who raises ‘Savitribai Phule zindabad’ slogans, on one hand, but on the other uses such abusive language.”
Calling it a “big mistake”, Mevani insists, “My friends alone know why I had to use such abusive language… The person on whom I was using it misbehaved with a girl in my family and was trying character assassination, which made me lose my temper. Whatever the reason, there is no justification for using such tongue.”
Soon after the audio went viral (Counterview was not forwarded the recording), a well-known Dalit women’s rights activist, Leena Patel, was among the first ones to criticize it as reflecting Mevani’s “male chauvinistic mindset”, wondering whether a person who thinks this way would ever fight for women’s liberation.
As it was an audio tape, many thought it was fake, and there was “no proof” that Mevani had uttered the words. Following the apology, which made clear that Mevani had indeed uttered the words, Patel insisted in a Facebook post, “Only a male would use such abusive words. We women are not against a particular person but against paternalistic mindset.”

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