Updated: October 31, 2021 12:05:46 am
After six members of a Dalit family at Ner village in Kutch were assaulted allegedly by a group of 20 persons on October 26, Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani on Saturday gave a call for “andolan” against atrocities and practise of untouchability against Dalits.
As part of the agitation, Mevani announced that on November 1 he along with members of the Dalit community shall be entering a temple at Varnun village in Rapar taluka in Kutch as a mark of protest.
Condemning the assault, Mevani said that “police do not act until there is an attack or a murder (of Dalits)”, and addressing the state’s ruling party BJP, remarked, “You, who play politics in the name of temples across the country, how many Ram Mandirs and temples in Gujarat do not allow entry to Dalits and what are you doing about this issue?… In Kutch district, in Rapar and Bhachau talukas, nearly 1200-1500 acres, that is nearly 3,000 bighas of land of scheduled castes and Dalit community are illegally occupied by upper castes.”
“The political administration and mechanism is doing no work (to remedy the) illegal occupation…To this effect, as a call for ’andolan’, Dalit members will enter a temple built on land owned by Dalit community members in the village of Varnun in Rapar taluka of Kutch on November 1,” he added.
“I hope that before we arrive, the police and the administration there will take action and ensure possession of the land (to its rightful owners)…I appeal to the Dalit community in Gujarat that at any village of any taluka in the state, where Dalit land remains illegally occupied, where (Dalits) are refused entry to temples, where (Dalits) are not allowed to keep mustache or are not permitted to ride a horse, where (dalits) are refused to draw water from wells, report all such incidents to me…I, along with Dalit community organisations and Congress party, have taken a stand in this matter and will conduct a campaign in Gujarat,” Mevani further said.
He also urged Kutch MP Vinod Chavda of BJP, who is also from scheduled caste and BJP MLA of Gandhidham Maltiben Maheshwari to come forward to ensure “rightful possession of land” of Dalits.
Mevani also urged the police that they must ensure illegal occupation of Dalit land must be reversed and “initiate proceedings (against the illegal occupies) under the Gujarat Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act and PASA (Prevention of Anti-Social Activities) Act.”
Mevani added that he appreciates that the police is taking action in the incident at Ner village and has ensured entry of Dalits in the temple at Ner. He however pointed out that the “BJP MP despite being elected from the reserved constituency and MLA of Gandhidham, which too is a reserved SC constituency, have been completely silent on this issue.”
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