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Una flogging: Dalits begin yatra, seek ‘azadi’ from bias

Participants will ask community members to stop removing animal carcass, demand allotment of farm land

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
Updated: August 6, 2016 5:57:54 am
Dalits at the march for Una at Ambedkar chowk in Ahmedabad on Friday. Express Photo by Javed Raja

Seeking “azadi” from caste-based discrimination, around 50 Dalits and members of civil rights groups Friday started a 400-km yatra to Una in Gir Somnath district where seven Dalits were attacked by “gau rakshaks” while skinning a dead cow on July 11.

The 10-day Dalit Asmita Yatra began from Ambedkar Chowk at Vejalpur in Ahmedabad district. The participants would converge in Una town on August 15 to hoist the Tricolour on the occasion of Independence Day.

“This yatra is for Dalit liberation, which we would spread across the country. On our way to Una, we will request Dalits to give up their traditional work of disposing of dead animals to give a strong message to the government. We will seek alternative economic opportunities for the marginalised people,” said Jignesh Mevani, one of the organisers of the march.

Former IPS officer Rahul Sharma, social activist Nirjhari Sinha and members of her NGO Jan Sangharsh Manch are among others participating in the rally.

It was planned to be a foot-march but due to incessant rain across the state, the participants said they would walk across villages and cover rest of the distance in a bus.

Before setting off for the yatra, Mevani told a gathering of mostly Dalits and Muslims that the participants would raise pitch for allotment of agriculture land to Dalits, for which forms will be distributed to them on the way.

“Since Dalits don’t want to continue the work of removing animal carcass and cleaning sewer lines, we want the government to provide us agriculture land, so that we can live a respectable life,” he said.

The idea of the yatra was floated by Rahul Sharma during the Dalit Mahasammelan on July 31 here. “The manner in which videos of the Dalit flogging were shared and celebrated, it showed the mindset of certain people… You can’t beat up people in the name of protecting cow,” he told the gathering.

People from outside Gujarat also participated in the yatra. Subramaniyam, a resident of Hyderabad, said, “No one should tell us what to eat or what to do. There should be absolute freedom to the citizens.”

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