In the wake of rising incidents of Dalit wedding processions being stopped by upper castes in parts of Gujarat, the BJP government in the state on Wednesday assured to take stern action against such elements. The Congress, however, said that such “hollow promises” by the government fails to provide “justice” to the Dalits.
Speaking to reporters, Minister of State for Home, Pradeepsinh Jadeja, said, “The Gujarat government is always with the Dalits. They also have the right to take out wedding processions like others. Our government is also concerned about some recent incidents. I want to assure you that stern action will be taken against those who were behind these incidents.” He, however, accused Opposition Congress of “creating a rift between Dalits and other communities”.
“Some people are trying to create a rift between communities for their political gains. At Lhor village, we have already arrested five persons, including the sarpanch, for announcing social boycott of Dalits. Notably, the sarpanch is a Congress supporter. Another accused is a local Congress delegate,” the minister added.
He was referring to an incident at Lhor village in Mehsana, where some local leaders, including the sarpanch, gave a call of social boycott after a Dalit groom took out his procession riding on a horse two weeks ago.
Jadeja also urged people from all walks of life to work with the government to establish and preserve social harmony in the society.
Slamming the BJP government over this issue, Gujarat Congress in-charge, Rajeev Satav, claimed that the government only gives hollow promises instead of taking action.
“Atrocities on Dalits in Gujarat have increased in recent years. After every incident, the state government gives hollow promises of stern action. However, Dalits never get justice,” Satav told reporters.
“This government has failed to maintain law and order. The administration is being run through remote control from Delhi. This is the reason why such atrocities are on the rise,” he said.
Earlier in the day, a Congress delegation, led by Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani and former state unit president Arjun Modhwadia, submitted a memorandum to Governor O P Kohli, demanding registration of FIRs under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against government officials who have allegedly shown negligence in taking action against those involved in atrocities on Dalits.
The Congress leaders alleged that the state BJP government and its police have failed to prevent the incidents of atrocities on Dalits.
“The law and order situation, especially in rural areas of the state, is becoming worse with each passing day. The people belonging to Scheduled Castes are humiliated, socially boycotted, intimidated, abused and even killed. The SC communities have been marginalised in the last two decades of the BJP rule,” the memorandum said.
It also drew attention of the Governor towards the Dalit victims of Thangadh firing, Una lynching and Patan self-immolation case “who are awaiting justice, besides non-implementation of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013”.
On Sunday, police had to resort to a lathicharge after members of the Patidar community allegedly stopped a Dalit man’s wedding procession and hurled stones at them, leaving 12 persons injured, including six police personnel.
While police have filed an FIR against unidentified group of 200 people, they have not registered a case against a woman police officer who has been accused by the groom’s family of being partisan in her approach.
In another incident the same day, the wedding procession of a Dalit bridegroom at a village in Sabarkantha district had to be provided police cover after members of the Thakor community objected to the groom offering prayers at a local temple. The procession, however, passed off peacefully, police said.