Dalit leader and Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani on Tuesday met Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja and demanded withdrawal of criminal cases registered against Dalits during their agitation following the public flogging of seven Dalits in Una, three years ago.
He also sought protection for around 600 Dalit beneficiaries in Kutch who have got farm land under the Agricultural Land Ceiling (ALC) Act.
Leading a delegation of his team members, Mevani first met Jadeja and put forth his demands. Mevani said that during the meeting, Jadeja told him that he would do the needful regarding the demands, but he should also speak to the CM since such decisions are being taken by the latter.
“So, we went and also met the Chief Minister. CM Rupani has assured to consider our demands,” Mevani said.
In 2016, public flogging of seven Dalits in Una by ‘gaurakshaks’ for skinning a dead cow had sparked a state-wide Dalit agitation. During this agitation, a number of cases were registered, many of them against Dalits. Mevani and his team are demanding withdrawal of cases among them which the state can withdraw.
Mevani said that they were not demanding withdrawal of any serious offences. “We demand that at least those cases which are minor in nature should be withdrawn the way many criminal cases registered against Patidars were withdrawn following the quota movement post 2015. In fact, we demand that any such minor cases registered against Dalits, tribals or any other community during such agitations should be withdrawn,” he added.
Kaushik Parmar, who was part of the delegation led by Mevani said, “During the Dalit agitation after Una incident, a total 74 cases were registered in the state. And 62 of them were registered against Dalits.”
Last year in March, Jadeja had told the Assembly that of the total 537 criminal cases registered against Patidars, 245 were withdrawn by the state government. The remaining cases were such that the government could not withdraw, citing “technical reasons”.
Mevani said that he has also sought preventive steps from the state government to ensure safety of around 600 Dalits in Kutch district who have been given farm land under the provisions of the ALC Act.
“Following Dalit agitation, around 600 Dalits have got land in Kutch under the provisions of the ALC Act. Now, farming on those land parcels by Dalits is not likely to be easy during the upcoming monsoon season. There could be conflict between Dalits and non-Dalits who have possessed the land parcels for over 35 years. In such a scenario, we apprehend attacks on Dalits there. So, I have sought pre-emptive measures from the state government to ensure safety of Dalits there,” Mevani said.
Apart from this, Mevani also demanded solution to the water woes of people in his Vadgam constituency and sought the release of Narmada water in Karmavat lake and Mukteshwar dam of Vadgam along with construction of check dams.