Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani Saturday targetted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Gujarat government for their inability to provide land rights to the Dalit community in the state. Mevani was speaking at a Dalit rally organised to protest the “denial” of land rights to Dalits under the provisions of the Agriculture Land Ceiling (ALC) Act, in Dholka region of Ahmedabad.
Mevani, who was detained from Ahmedabad International Airport by Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch officials ahead of Modi’s visit on Friday, was released late on Friday night. He also hit out at state Revenue Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, an MLA from Dholka. At the Dalit rally in Dholka outside the Taluka Seva Sadan, Mevani took up the issue of 331 allottees at Saroda village of Dholka, most of whom are Dalits, who are yet to get possession of their land under the ALC Act.
“Ratan Tata was sent an SMS by Modi — ‘Suswagatam’ — and a Rs 33,000 crore worth of subsidy was given, files were cleared overnight and a large tract of land was given to Tata. If this can be possible, then why can’t our land be given to us legally?” Mevani said.
Speaking on the death of a Muslim man who was attacked by suspected gau rakshaks on September 13, Mevani said, “Several gau rakshaks attacked an innocent Muslim youth, Mohammed Ayyub, and he has passed away at VS Hospital in Ahmedabad. We will be seriously taking up the issue. I call it Dadri Part 2. The way we have struggled to secure and ensure justice for Una victims, we will fight for the issue of Ayyub with the same spirit and energy. In no circumstances were Una attackers spared and in the same way, Ayyub’s attackers also won’t be spared.”
Mevani and his team had initially planned to gherao the Taluka Seva Sadan for the redressal of land issue of Dalits in Dholka region. However, they shelved the idea later and went ahead with a protest rally for which they secured police permission on Saturday morning. Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, the group floated by Mevani and his team, also gave a memorandum to taluka authorities over immediate resolution of the land issues of Dalits in the region.
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Later, while speaking with The Sunday Express, Mevani said, “On Monday, we will meet Ahmedabad Collector and see if they give written assurance about giving actual possession of land to Dalits in Dholka region which so far has remained only on paper. If that does not happen, we will launch a ‘Rasta Roko Andolan’ from the Income Tax Crossroads in Ahmedabad.”
Harshvardhan Solanki, mamlatdar and executive magistrate of Dholka, said, “The government is totally proactive and sensitive towards the problems of Dalits at Saroda village. We have already told them that a committee has been set up by the Collector to look into the issue last week. The decision in this case will be taken very soon. As soon as the committee takes a decision, they will be given possession which is likely to happen in a month.”