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'Insult to Ambedkar's anti-untouchability mission': brass coin yatra forced to return

By Our Representative 
The anti-untouchability caravan led by top Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan, stopped about five kilometres inside Haryana, allegedly on instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has been forced to begin its return journey after failing to be allowed to proceed further to Delhi. It will reach Ahmedabad on Tuesday afternoon.
On crossing the Haryana border and reaching Shahjahanpur, the caravan, consisting of a huge 1,111 kg brass coin having the photograph of Dr BR Ambedkar on one side and Lord Buddha on the other about 25 lakh one rupee coins and a huge Ambadkar statue, was stopped on August 7 evening by a large posse of the state police, which also put up barricades.
Consisting of six buses with 350 Dalit activists and four trucks loaded with the huge brass coin, the Ambedkar statue, and 25 lakh one rupee coins, the activists sat for the whole day on dharna on August 8. Kirit Rathod, a senior activist, termed the refusal of the Haryana police not to allow the caravan to proceed further “an insult to Dr BR Ambedkar, whose mission was to remove untouchability.”
While the brass coin was minted following contribution of brass utensils from Dalits across Gujarat and other parts of India, the one rupee coins were donations from as many individuals – both meant as their contribution to the need for commitment from the MPs who would sit in the Parliament building, to fulfill Dr Ambedkar’s dream of untouchability free India.
The Dalit leaders had proposed to hand over the brass coin and 25 lakh one rupee coins to the President, the Vice President, and the Lok Sabha speaker, stating, this was their contribution to the new Parliament building, as a stark reminder that even 75 years after Independence, the powers-that-be have not been able to abrogate untouchability. The brass coin is embossed with the pointed question: “Will India be untouchability free by 2047?”, i.e. the centenary year lof the Independence.
The caravan, which began its journey on August 1 from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), the technical-cum-Dalit empowerment centre founded by Macwan about two decades ago 20 kilometres south-east of Ahmedabad, was to reach Delhi via Rajasthan and Haryana on August 7. Macwan had announced that if they were not given the appointment to hand over the brass coin and 25 lakh one rupee coins, they would return to DSK, hoping to make similar attempt next year.
Asked what did his brass coin yatra -- which began its return journey on August 8 evening -- achieve, Macwan told Counterview, the very fact that about 1,000 cops with water cannons were deployed to stop their yatra from processing to Delhi, and barricades were put up,  "suggests we succeeded in highlighting the issue of untouchability, which was our main purpose." 
According to him, "The support that we received all the way, in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana, was overwhelming. Clearly, the brass coin had become larger... Not without reason", he said, "Lots of media people reached up to us to find out what was our mission and why were we being stopped." Quoting cops, he added, they were stopped on the highway to Delhi “on instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs.” 
In Delhi, the Dalit caravan was to be welcomed at the Ambedkar Bhawan, where a large number of human rights, mainly Dalit, activists had already gathered.



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