Around 130 Dalit protesters, led by activist Jignesh Mevani, were detained briefly on Monday from outside Ahmedabad Collectorate when they blocked a road, demanding possession of the land allotted to members of the community under the Agricultural Land Ceiling Act years ago.
Most protesters were from Dholka taluka in Ahmedabad district. Leading the agitation, Mevani threatened to take out a “naked march” near the Collectorate, if the authorities in 72 hours do not take a “concrete step” on the demand raised by the Dalit protesters.
“Despite an order from the Gujarat High Court, the land granted to landless Dalit farmers of Dholka region under the provisions of the ALC Act has remained only on paper. We have made a number of representations to authorities in this regard, but the government is not doing anything concrete,” he said.
“If, within 72 hours, the district administration does not start official procedure to handover possession of those lands to the Dalits, we will take out a naked march outside Ahmedabad Collectorate. Women will also join the protest,” he said.
Resident additional collector Atul Gor said, “The Dalits of Dholka were given land under the provisions of the ALC Act in 2006. They were also given possession of the same and the land records are also in their name. But, they claim that there are encroachments on those plots and they do not hold possession. We have formed a committee of senior officers, who is looking into the issues.”
Last Friday, minutes before the arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the city airport, Mevani was taken into preventive detention by officials of the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB), Ahmedabad.