Minutes before the arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the city airport on Friday, Dalit agitation leader Jignesh Mevani was taken into preventive detention by officials of the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB), Ahmedabad. Deputy commissioner of police, DCB, Deepan Bhadran said Mevani was detained from the airport following an “input”, which he did not disclose. “He was detained following a specific input. He is being questioned and will be released soon,” Bhadran said.
The events unfolded around 8.15 pm at the arrival point of the airport where Jignesh’s cousin Viral was waiting to receive him. Jignesh who was coming from Delhi where he attended a rally.
“As soon as he (Jignesh) came out, around 25 policemen in plainclothes asked him to sit in their vehicle. When I asked them to let me talk to Jignesh, they told me that it was a police matter and I should not interfere,” said Viral.
Following the assault on seven Dalits by gau rakshaks in Una taluka of Gir-Somnath district on July 11, Mevani and his friends formed two groups — Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti and Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch (RDAM) — to hold protest events and campaign for Dalit empowerment in Gujarat.
He had given a call to gherao the office of Dholka Prant Officer in Ahmedabad district on Saturday, demanding a written undertaking from the state government to give possession of hundreds of acres of land allocated to Dalits, “only on paper without physical possession”, under the provisions of the Agriculture Land Ceiling Act.
Last Wednesday, at a public event in Vejalpur area of Ahmedabad, he had announced to launch a “rail roko andolan” at different places in Gujarat and also claimed that 20 national and state-level activists would join him.
In the same programme, he had also cited a number of reasons to why Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Limkheda function on September 17 (Saturday) “could be disrupted”.
On Friday, before leaving Delhi for Ahmedabad, Mevani had sent text messages to his friends here, stating that he had announced at Jantar Mantar that the rail roko andolan would be launched on October 1 from Modi’s former assembly constituency Maninagar in Ahmedabad. In the text message, he added that those who could not join the agitation could indulge in pulling the chain of the train.
Meanwhile, around 100 Dalits gathered outside the DCB headquarters in Raikhad area of Ahmedabad, shouting slogans for Mevani’s immediate release.
Police also detained around 400 members of Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti across Gujarat on Friday, a day before the PM’s events in the state to mark his 67th birthday. Patidar agitators have threatened to stage protest in Navsari during the PM’s event, after they did not get permission to meet him to push for their demands.