Leaders of Left parties and Dalit outfits on Friday attacked the NDA government, claiming a rise in cases of atrocities against community members even as they questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his dispensation’s alleged inaction against cow protection groups.
Speaking during a rally in New Delhi, the leaders including CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury accused the government of “destroying” the country’s social fabric and warned of launching widespread protests over the issue of atrocities against Dalits.
“The protest is to tell the government that the atrocities which have risen sharply against the Dalits in the name of cow vigilantism…on this, action should be taken against the culprits.
“Why are you not banning these cow vigilantism groups? Why are you not giving the rights of equality to Dalits as provided in our Constitution?” Yechury asked during the rally.
Referring to Modi’s “hit me, but don’t hit Dalits” remarks in the wake of alleged attacks on Dalits in the recent past, Yechury suggested that giving mere statement will not serve the purpose and insisted the Prime Minister declare that “law of the land” will prevail if Dalits are targeted.
“But he has not assured it yet,” the Rajya Sabha member said.
He pitched for empowering Dalits, saying they should be allotted five acres of agricultural land to be economically strong and also insisted eradicating practice of manual scavenging.
“You do something about that. Otherwise, what is happening in our country is completely destroying our social fabric and the atrocities against the Dalits continue to be committed,” he rued.
Speaking about the rally, organised by Dalit Swabhiman Sangharsh – an umbrella body of Left parties and Dalit outfits, Yechury said it is a “struggle for self-respect” by Dalits seeking “equality” as provided in the Constitution.
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The Marxist leader said the rallies will be held in all state capitals in coming days before the outfits re-converge in the national capital when Winter session of Parliament begins.
Taking part in the rally, Jignesh Mevani, who floated the Dalit Atyachar Ladhai Samiti following flogging of Dalits in Gujarat’s Una, seconded Yechury and said his front will struggle for self-respect of community members in the light of the alleged attacks and also for ensuring “roti, kapada aur makan” for them.
He also sought to pick holes in the Gujarat model of development, accusing the BJP-led state government of not keeping electoral promises on providing housing facilities and employment.
“We will expose this hollow development model…besides protesting casteism, we want to expose this hollow Gujarat model of development,” he added.
CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy, party’s national secretary D Raja, BRP-Bahujan Mahasangh President Prakash Ambedkar and mother of Hyderabad Central University student Rohith Vemulla, Radhika and others addressed the rally.
Meanwhile, Mevani said his organisation will stage a rail roko on October 1, if the Vijay Rupani government fails to begin the procedure for allotting agricultural land to community members from Friday night.
“The rail roko will begin from Mani Nagar constituency (earlier represented by Modi when he was the state’s Chief Minister),” he added.
He also urged people to buy rail tickets, board a general bogie and conduct mass-level chain pulling on the day to attract attention of the Modi government on the issues concerning Dalits.
Referring to the Una incident and West Bengal’s Singur land acquisition, Mevani said, “There should be no Una, there should be no Singur” as he asserted the outfit he floated will work for Dalits and farmers.
Among other, the protesters demanded the government to strengthen the SC/ST Act to make it more effective, implementing SC/ST sub plan, enacting a law named after Rohith Vemula to end caste-based discrimination at varsities, offering more incentives to inter-caste marriages, etc.