The ongoing Gujarat march to protest against the flogging of Dalits at Una on July 11 was forced to change its route near Samter village of Una taluka on Sunday after local community members blocked their way. Many people from Samter have been arrested in the flogging incident.
Police said that apprehensive of a violent incident between the two parties, they diverted the march, organised by the Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti (UDALS), to a different route. The march later reached Una safely with police escort.
Organised by Dalits, the march has attracted many people from the civil society since it started from Ahmedabad on August 5. It is scheduled to culminate on Independence Day with the unfurling of the Tricolour and a public meeting at Una.
Jignesh Mevani, convener of the UDALS who is leading the march, said, “There were chances of a confrontation at Samter. We had got messages from our volunteers camping in Una about local upper castes adopting an offensive behaviour and blocking the road near Samter village. So police which are escorting us asked us to avoid Samter village.”
Mujahid Nafees, who is part of the the march, said, “We found that around 200-300 people had blocked the road with a tractor trolley and other vehicles. They were shouting slogans like Gau Mata ki jai, and saying Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata ki jai.” According to him, the protesters forbid them from even using their mobiles so that they couldn’t take any pictures.
Additional Director General of Police, Law & Order (In-charge), A K Singh said, “There was a possibility of altercation as a lot of people from Samter village have been arrested (in the Una flogging episode)… So the rally took a minor detour.”
Una police inspector H G Vaghela said there had been an incident of stone-pelting on on Saturday night as well near Samter village when some Dalits organised an event at Mota Samadhiyala village in Una. The Dalits who were flogged belonged to Mota Samadhiyala village.
An FIR has been registered against a mob of around 100 people, said Vaghela.