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Mevani threatens Muslim bodies with boycott, says they must first solve Gujarat riot victims' housing issues

By Our Representative
In a little known development, Gujarat's Dalit face Jignesh Mevani has threatened Muslim organizations, which have claimed to have "resettled" thousands of 2002 riot victims, that he would boycott meetings called by them anywhere in India. Mevani's threat comes close on the heels of complaints by tens of riot victims that they are sought to be evicted by the very same organizations that had allowed them to settle down on their land in the aftermath of the riots.
Elected as MLA from Vadgam constituency in North Gujarat during the recent assembly elections, Mevani's threat acquires significance as he has been championing the cause of Dalit-Muslim unity, the two communities which, he believes, are suffering the most under the Narendra Modi government in India and the BJP rule in Gujarat. Mevani's victory in Vadgam, with Congress support, owes mainly to Muslim and Dalit support.
At a meeting called by minority rights body, Alpasankhyak Adhikar Manch (AAM), at Gujarat Vidyapeeth, the riot victims made a strong plea against the Muslim organizations which had "resettled" them on land they had acquired. The organizations identified by AAM in a note are Jamiat-e-ulema-e-Hind, Gujarat Sarvajanik Relief Committee, Islamic Relief Committee, United Economic Forum and several "small local trusts and individuals."
Even as Mevani and other civil society leaders were listening to the victims flabbergasted, they were told how they were not allowed to celebrate festivals, even sing songs, and were often told that they were themselves responsible for their state of affairs following the riots. In fact they were not true Muslims, as they would participate in "non-Muslim" festivals like Navratri. They believed, it was a conspiracy to displace them again, as land prices on which they were resettled had zoomed.
Following the testimonies by the riot victims, Mevani said, one should, no doubt, appreciate the Muslim organizations which had given riot victims temporary shelter. But they must now come forward to work for providing them housing rights. "Now and on these organizations call me as speaker at their meetings in Delhi and across the country. Till they help resolve riot victims' problems, I will not attend their meetings, let it be clear. I will tell this to them in clear-cut terms", he said.
Suggesting that he would negotiate on behalf of the riot victims living in resettlement colonies, with the active support of their representatives, Mevani, however, insisted, the primary responsibility for their state of affairs lies with the state government. He said, "It is the greatness of Gujarat model that all that the deprived sections in Gujarat have received in the name of justice in the recent past is a big zero, despite media reports, Teesta Setalvad's court battles, and NGO interventions."
Reacting to the riot victims' complaint that, despite several requests between 2015 and 2017, the Gujarat chief minister has not cared to meet them to listen to their problems, Mevani said, "It is such a third class and thick skinned government that unless one aggressively protests, it refuses to do anything."
Asking riot victims to give him 10 representatives each from the 83 colonies for protest, Mevani declared, "I will see how chief minister Vijay Rupani enters the Gujarat state assembly without giving an appointment. We will not allow him to enter the House. Remember, now you have one among you as elected representative standing by you in thick and thin."
Also giving aq call to gherao the state assembly with the help of 1,500 riot victims, Mevani said, "Rupani has to give us concrete assurance that the the victims' problems are solved. Unless he does it, we will not allow him to garland Babasaheb Ambedkar's statue on his birthday, April 14." He added, "Unless you hit the streets, your problems will not be solved for the next 70 years, just as these have not been solve for the last 70 years."

Comments

K SHESHU BABU said…
Solidarity with Mevani. He has taken right step to expose hypocrisy of Muslim conservative elements. Many dalits and muslim families are yet to be rehabilitated by the government

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