March 18, 2019 5:43:58 am
Even as the hunger strike carried out by Dalit families of Mota Samadhiyala, including those who were flogged by self-claimed cow vigilantes three years ago, entered the seventh day on Sunday in Gir Somnath district’s Una town, local government officials said their hands were tied to take any decision due to the model code of conduct, which is in force in the country ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
The Dalit families, who have been on a hunger strike outside the office of sub-divisional magistrate of Una since March 11, are demanding agriculture land from the government for their subsistence.
On Sunday, one of the fasting family members of Balu Sarvaiya, who had become the face of the Una flogging incident, had to be admitted to a hospital after his health deteriorated.
Nathu Sarvaiya, the cousin brother of Balu, was taken to the hospital as his blood pressure fell sharply after a week of fasting, his relatives said.
“We had met the personal secretary of Chief Minister (Vijay Rupani) on December 17 last year. The officer had instructed the district collector of Gir Somnath on phone to allot land to four families of the Una atrocity case. However, nothing is actually moving on the ground. Therefore, we are left with no option but to go on this hunger strike,” Balu Sarvaiya’s son, Vashram, told The Indian Express on Sunday.
Around 30 members of the extended families of Balu Sarviya and Ashok Sarviya of Mota Samadhiyala village, one from Gir Gadhda, five each from Harmadiya and Kandhi villages and one from Ankolali village are on a hunger strike.
Dalits from other villages have joined the hunger strike, complaining that the state government has not handed them the possession of the land that they had been allotted decades ago.
Balu Sarvaiya’s family owns around 1 bigha land and cultivates another small plot which is a government wasteland. But Vashram said that they need more land to earn their livelihood. “We are fasting to press for our demand that the state government withdraw hundreds of cases filed against Dalits during violence in the aftermath of atrocities committed against us,” he said.
While Gir Somnath Collector Ajay Prakash did not answer phone calls and replied to text messages of The Indian Express, Mahendra Prajapati, sub-divisional magistrate of Una, said that they had already conveyed to the agitating Dalits that they were constrained to act due to the model code of conduct. “Allotting land to these families is a policy decision that cannot be taken at our level. At present, there are no instruction from the state government to allot land to these families. Secondly, due to the election, we are constrained to take important decisions. We have already conveyed this to the families two weeks ago, but they insisted on instant action and have therefore launched their hunger strike,” said the SDM.
But Vashram said that the agitators will assemble again on Monday and submit a memorandum to the Una SDM. “If the government does not pay heed to our demands, we shall go on fast-unto-death,” he said.
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