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Jignesh Mevani's "U-turn": Says he didn't threaten Muslim bodies with boycott, it's a campaign to defame him

By Our Representative
In a surprise U-turn, Gujarat's well-known Dalit face Jignesh Mevani has said, a "wilfull campaign" is on against him to the effect that he is against Muslim organizations, going so far as to threaten them with boycott. Asserting that he "cannot hope to oppose" organizations like Islamic Relief Committee, Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind, Jamaat-e-Islami and others, he has said in a video, these have "contributed" in a major way to help and rehabilitate those who remain displaced after the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Mevani's U-turn comes about two weeks after he had declared on February 28, 2018, 16th anniversary of Gujarat riots, he would "boycott" Muslim organizations, which have claimed to have "resettled" thousands of 2002 riot victims. He had said, he would boycott meetings called by them anywhere in India if they did not move to settle the housing rights of about 3,280 families, who still live in sub-human conditions in 83 resettlement colonies.
"I am frequently called by these Muslim organizations to address them all over India. I am going to tell them that I would not come to them till their issues are solved", Mevani, speaking in Gujarati, had underlined amidst a wide applause from representatives of desplaced riot victims, who had gathered for the meeting, which took place at Gujarat Vidyapith on February 28.
Mevani's threat had come following complaints by tens of riot victims at the meeting that they were now being 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. Flabbergasted, Mevani, flanked by three other civil rights leaders, had listened to them attentively.
The riot victims had gone so far as to complain that not only their houses were not being regularised and they were deprived of basic amenities, but they were not allowed to sing songs, hold marriage processions or celebrate festivals. In fact, they were being told that their suffering was caused because they adopted "non-Islamic" way of life.
Denying that he ever threatened Muslim organizations, Mevani has now uploaded a Facebook video, where he speaks in Hindi, blaming those seeking to defame him for carrying out an intense propaganda on social media and WhatsApp groups to the effect that he is against Muslim community organizations.
Taking potshots at the Prime Minister and the BJP chief, he says in the video, "I want to make it clear that I am against Modi and Amit Shah. I am against their hollow Gujarat development model. I am not against any religion or caste. And I clearly believe that, after the 2002 riots, it is the Islamic Relief Committee, Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind, Jamat-e-Islami, and other organizations of the Muslim community, who have stood by and are fighting for those who got displaced and dislocated from their houses."
Pointing out that he "cannot be against" these organizations, and it is "quite childish" to suggest that he threatened them, Mevani says, "Yet, an intentional campaign is on, that I threated them. If I threaten anyone, it will be Modi and Amit Shah." He adds, in his electoral fight for the Gujarat state assembly from Vadgam, Muslims, including women, played a "major role" in his victory.
In the short, two-minute video, Mevani concludes by saying, "In the coming days, we will launch Dalit-Muslim Ekta Manch", asking Muslim organizations to become "part of such a campaign", adding, "Let us come together to fight against Modi’s and Amit Shah’s anti-constitutional Gujarat model. We will fight against them. I appeal to all the organizations and their leaders to come with us and become part of our struggle."

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