Updated: October 5, 2017 5:48:06 am
Amid incidents of attack on Dalits in Gujarat, activists from the community on Wednesday held a protest outside the state secretariat in Gandhinagar during which some of them were detained. Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani was also detained from his residence in Ahmedabad in the morning to prevent him from taking part in the protest.
While a 17-year-old Dalit, who was attacked Tuesday by unidentified men in a Gandhinagar village allegedly for sporting a moustache, made slow recovery at a civil hospital in the district, the “moocho toh rakhvani (will keep a moustache)” campaign gained strength, with several members of the community in Gandhinagar and Sanand (Ahmedabad) changing their display photographs on social media sites to “Mr Dalit” — a logo of a twirled moustache with a crown and Mr Dalit written on it. Dalits have also started to print stickers of “Mr Dalit” logo to paste it on their cars and motorcycles.
“Telling me to not keep a moustache is against my constitutional rights… I have put up a picture with a moustache on my Facebook page and will get a sticker soon. We will spread this campaign,” said Jagawar Chauhan, a social worker from Sanand.
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Some Dalit women too have joined the campaign and changed their display photograph on social media sites. “It is not only about (Dalit) men… It is about how our community is being treated. We also appeal other women to take part in this campaign” said Parvati Parmar from Sanand.
The attack on the Dalit boy at Limbodara village in Gandhinagar was the third such incident in nine days. The boy had claimed that he was with his-24-year-old friend Piyush Parmar on September 25, when they were attacked allegedly by members of the upper caste Darbar community for sporting a moustache.
Similarly, a Dalit man, Krunal Maheriya, was attacked on September 29 for “keeping a moustache”. While police have arrested one person each in the two previous cases, no arrest has been made so far in the latest incident.
“Two men who were riding on a motorcycle assaulted me. I am scared of living in the village now. The doctors say that they will discharge me tomorrow. I was told that the doctors are under pressure and are discharging me early,” said the teenage Dalit boy, a Class 11th student, on Wednesday. He was attacked Tuesday evening while returning from school. Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) general secretary for Gujarat Rajesh Patel along with Dalit leader Rakesh Maheriya met the teenager at the hospital.
Earlier in the day, activists, associated with Mevani’s Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, were detained by Gandhinagar police before they could enter the secretariat complex.
“We have detained around six Dalit activists from outside the Sachivalaya (secretariat),” Deputy Superintendent of Police H M Jadeja said. Those detained include, Subodh Parmar, Kaushik Parmar and Dixit Parmar.
During the protest and subsequent detention, these activists shouted anti-BJP slogans and demanded the resignation of minister of state for home, Pradeepsinh Jadeja. They alleged that atrocities against Dalits are on a rise under the BJP rule.
Meghaninagar police inspector Dinesh Punadiya said Mevani was also detained from his residence in Meghaninagar area in the morning to prevent him from attending the protests at Gandhinagar.
Upon his detention, Mevani had tweeted: “I’m being taken to Special Operations Group office after detention. We had planned a demonstration seeking resignation of H.M. Of Gujarat.” He was released after 4 pm.
Congress’s Gujarat affairs in-charge Ashok Gehlot termed Mevani’s detention “unfortunate” and tweeted BJP government has failed to protect Dalits in the state and “now they are snatching away their right to even protest”.
The Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch said the protest was planned to express anger against recent incidents, wherein Dalits were either killed by upper caste men or thrashed.
Subodh Parmar of the Manch alleged that Dalits are feeling unsafe under the BJP government. He was referring to the attacks in Dalits in at Limbodara village and the murder of 21-year-old Dalit youth Jayesh Solanki in Anand. Solanki was beaten to death on October 1 allegedly by some men of the Patel community at Bhadraniya village following an altercation over watching garba.
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