Dalits from 1,000 villages of Gujarat came together at Dalit Shakti Kendra in Sanand’s Nani Devati village to launch a mission to declare India free of untouchability by 2047 with the slogan “Ram naam satya chhe, abhadchhet haqeeqat chhe (Name of Ram is truth; untouchability is a fact). The members have chosen cup and saucer and supda (used for cleaning foodgrain) as the mission’s symbols.
“A cup and saucer because discrimination starts when members of lower castes are given different saucers to drink tea. Cup and saucer also because our Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to be a chaiwala… Supda because it is made by various lower caste people. It is a symbol that stands for the collective effort of lower castes,” Dalit activist and managing trustee of Navsarjan Trust Martin Macwan told the gathering.
On August 4, they are planning to take a supda and a blank certificate to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. They will ask him to write the name of the village that he declared ‘untouchability free’ on the certificate.
“The issue of discrimination continues in our country. People asked me why am I planning for eradicating untouchability 30 years from now. I think they should ask me why are we doing this so late. This will take time, but it is our way of ensuring an equal society for our youngsters. Ram Nath Kovind is in Ahmedabad today and let me tell you that on the day he filed his nomination for Presidential polls, a havan was conducted in his village. They did not pay homage to Baba Saheb or Savitribai, but performed a havan. This shows what we are in for,” said Macwan.
Dalit activist Uttam Parmar and Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar, were also present at the meeting.
“We should start with eliminating untouchability among ourselves. Let’s do away with various groups we have within our sub-castes. If we do not become one, then we do not have the right to say anything against Manusmriti. Politically, we are equal as we all have the right to vote. So let us use it wisely and give it to those who agree with our agenda,” said Prakash Ambedkar.
Balu Sarvaiya, whose family members were attacked by gau rakshaks in Una last year, attended the meet with his wife and children. “We are here because even in our village we are treated as untouchables. Barbers refuse to shave the men of Dalits, women of our community are harassed often and even today in tea shops they give us a separate saucer to drink,” said Balu.