Skip to main content

Gujarat Dalit rally to reach Una amidst wide support to stop scavenging dead cows, retaliation from upper castes

Dalits of Goradaka village pledge not to pick up dead cattle
By Our Representative
The Dalit Asmita Yatra, flagged off in Ahmedabad on August 5 by a Valmiki girl, will be completing its 350-long journey in Una on India’s Independence Day, August 15, where a Valmiki girl is scheduled unfurl the national flag. During the 10-day yatra, 100-odd campaigners, mostly from Ahmedabad, would reach outskirts of towns and villages, and begin 20-25 km long foot march to hold rallies with community people.
The yatra has been organized by the Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti (Una Dalit Committee to Fight Atrocity) in protest against the July 11 incident in Una, a small Gujarat town in Saurashtra region, where four Dalit youths were flogged by cow vigilantes with iron rods after tying them up with an SUV, punishing them for skinning dead cattle.
In the towns and villages where the Dalit yatra reached, the leaders took the pledge from the Dalits not to continue with the hierarchical occupation of disposing of dead cattle, a job carried out by the Rohit (chamar) sub-caste. The Valmikis are the lowest in the Dalit caste hierarchy, with many of them involved in manual scavenging in towns and picking up dead animals in villages.
In each of his speeches, yatra convener Jignesh Mewani, a young human rights lawyer asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “take care of dead cows, who are mother to cow vigilantes.”
Slogans of “Dalits Muslims bhai bhai” were heard in several of the towns, including Botad, Rajula, Savarkundla and Gadhada, and villages, such as Dhasa, Tatam, Valthera, Gadhada, Goradaka, Thoradi and Nagalpur, where the leaders addressed hundreds of community people.
As the yatra proceeded, the campaigners noted a board “Rajula Gauseva Sadan in Rajula, Amreli district, Gujarat”, where they found dead dogs and cows feeding on heaps of garbage. Pratik Sinha, a Mevani associate, noted, “Dalits were beaten up by go sewaks just 500 metres from this area in May end. This is Gujarat model.”
Heaps of dirt lying alongside board of panjrapol (cow herd) in Una
A resident of Thoradi village in Amreli district told the campaigners that the decision not to pick up dead cattle is being strictly observed everywhere. According to this resident, “A cow died at a Patel family's house and the family was ready to pay up to Rs 5,000 to pick it up and dispose of. The Dalits told them that even if they give Rs 50,000, they wouldn’t touch the dead cow. This forced the Patel family to bury their dead cow on their own.”
Even as the yatra was on, Raju Solanki, a Dalit rights activist from Ahmedabad, reported that in Surendranagar district, massive retaliation from dominant castes against Dalits for refusing to pick up cow dead cows has begun.
He said, “Three Dalit campaigners, on reaching a hotel on the highway, were violently attacked with rods. One of them, Kanji, a daily wage worker, who doesn’t even do the job of scavenging dead cattle, suffered leg fracture is currently undergoing treatment in Ahmedabad civil hospital.”
Those attending the rally noted, quite like Kanhaiya Kumar of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jignesh Mevani, a skillful orator with degrees in English and law, quotes Karl Marx and Babasaheb Ambedkar, even as rattling out facts and figures from the right to information (RTI) petitions and court cases he had filed to show how rural Dalit were deprived of the land there were entitled to.
On Mevani’s call for support from the country as a whole, those who responded included Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of BR Ambedkar, who on August 12 addressed a rally in Mumbai. Among those who joined in included five members of Dalit Samaj Punjab and the CPI-ML group from Bihar and UP to be part of the yatra. On August 13, the People’s Platform for Dalits Assertion, Tamil Nadu, announced a solidarity meet on in Chennai.
Kanji beaten up in Surendranagar for refusing to pick up dead cow
Nita Mahadev, a Gandhian, sent out an appeal to fellow Gandhians and Gandhian institutes to support the yatra, saying, unprecedented atrocities committed against the Dalits by cow vigilante groups was not acceptable. In response, a group Gandhian headed by Jaywant Mathakare of Seva Gram Gandhi Ashram, founded by Mahatma Gandhi in Vardha, went to Una, offering the Dalits who had suffered flogging two acres land, a place to live and education to children for 25 years.
International support to the yatra poured in from US, Canada and Germany, with messages of protests sen by Ambedkar Association North America, Ambedkar International Mission, Boston Study Group, Ambedkar International Centre, Ambedkar Association of California, and students and research fellows at the University of Göttingen, and Goethe Institute Gottingen, Germany.

Comments

TRENDING

Billion vaccine doses? Devil is in details: 70% haven't got 2nd jab; numbers jacked up

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  India has reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccinations milestone. It is indeed a great news and a big salute to the less paid ordinary health-workers in interiors of India for this feat. The government wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year. Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people have had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated, the government says.

Political consensus? Celebrations, with over 5,000 plus post-vaccine deaths in India

By Rosamma Thomas*  As India fully vaccinated nearly 20% of its population and celebrated the “milestone” of administering one billion (100 crore) Covid-19 vaccine doses, it was time to remember those who died shortly after vaccination . By October 20, 2021 Twitter handle C400T, tracking deaths reported to have occurred after receiving the Covid-19 shot in India, updated the 5,134th death.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Uttarakhand, Kerala disaster due to policies favouring India's developmental mafia

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Two of India’s most beautiful regions where thousands of people go to watch and feel the wonders of nature are suffering because of the extremely disastrous rains and floods. The pain that the rains brought to Kerala and Uttarakhand is a warning to all of us. It's nature’s warning to us to mend our ways.

March opposes Sabarmati Ashram renovation: 'Mahatmaji had kept open for access to all'

Counterview Desk A Sevagram to Sabarmati march, which began on October 17 from Wardha (Maharashtra) and will end on October 24 in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), has demanded that the Sabarmati Ashram, the government should not impose "the fashion and glitz of a shallow modernity" at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, in the name of renovating the Ashram founded by Gandhiji.

Religious mobs replicate blasphemy laws, 'threatening' liberty in a free country

Nihangs, Lakhbir Singh By Ajit Singh*   A Dalit man, Lakhbir Singh, was mercilessly beaten up and lynched to death near farmers’ protest site in the State of Haryana allegedly by Nihang Sikhs. It was alleged that he committed blasphemy by desecrating the Holy Book Guru Granth Sahib.