Dalit Adhikar Manch(DAM) leader Jignesh Mevani, who had given a call for ‘rail roko’ at Maninagar Railway Station Saturday morning, withdrew it at the last moment after state government’s assurance with regard to his demands.
Speaking to The Indian Express, he said that the dalits took out foot-marches, held public meetings and submitted memoranda to the state government through different channels but the state government remained quiet on the demand of dalits.
“After the state government turned a deaf ear to our demands, we decided to organise a ‘rail roko’ and that too, in an area which was represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his chief ministership. The Maninagar Railway Station falls in Maninagar assembly constituency which was represented by Modi,” said Mevani.
“First, I got a call from the Chief Minister’s office(CMO) and then from Home Minister Pradipsinh Jadeja who assured me that the government would listen to my demands. I have been asked to hold talks with the government on October 5th or 6th,” said Mevani.
“Our major demands include BPL cards to all dalit families in villages, allotment of residential plots to dalits without their own houses in villages and allotment of five acre land to each dalit family working as agriculture labourer or engaged in skinning of dead animals or other menial jobs to eke out their living”, said Mevani.
At a meeting with activists from the state and others parts of India including Kerala, UP, Delhi and Maharashtra, Mevani said that dalits had achieved political empowerment but their economic and social empowerment was yet to see the light of the day.
“Our fight is now to empower dalits economically as well as socially, besides ending day to day atrocities on them”, explained Mevani with regard to the objective of his movement. In response to a question if he planned to join party politics, he said that he was basically interested in fighting for empowerment of dalits and he could not rule out joining party politics at some stage if entering politics would help dalits achieve their objectives.
Rajeev Yadav from Rihai Manch in Lucknow wanted to issue firearms licenses to dalits in villages where they were not feeling safe due to caste tensions. Magsasay Award winner Sandip Pandey wanted use of Right To Education(RTE) scheme of the government to enrol poor dalit students in good schools to provide them quality education.