Mehsana police on Wednesday registered an offence against Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and 15 others for holding a public meeting in the town and then taking out a march, Azadi Kooch, without necessary permission.
The Azadi Kooch was being organised to observe one year of the assault on seven members of a Dalit family at mota samadhiyala by a group of alleged gau rakshaks and public flogging of four of them in Una town.
Police filed an FIR against Mevani, Kumar and the others for unlawful assembly and violation of prohibitory orders. The permission for the public meeting and the march was withdrawn a few days ago.
Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch (RDAM), floated by Mevani and his friends, had planned a seven-day march from Mehsana to Dhanera of Banaskantha district, seeking freedom from various anti-Dalit actions and alleged inaction by the state government.
The march was to press for physical possession of agriculture land granted to Dalits three under statutory provisions. They claimed that the move remained only on paper.
Despite police withdrawing permission for it, Mevani had declared that his outfit would continue with the march. And accordingly, RDAM held a public meeting at Somnath Chowk of Mehsana on Wednesday. Mevani was joined by a number of noted activists like Kumar, Patidar woman leader Reshma Patel, lawyer Shamshad Pathan and farmer leader Sagar Rabari.
The gathering was attended by hundreds of people, mostly Dalits, amid strong police presence.Mevani, Reshma, Kumar and a few others addressed the rally, asking people to forget differences on the lines of caste, creed and religion, and work collectively to bring a political change in the country. All of them criticised the Gujarat model of development being canvassed across the country, saying that rights of marginalised communities and minorities were being violated more frequently.
Mevani, Reshma, Kumar and a few others addressed the rally, asking people to forget differences on the lines of caste, creed and religion, and work collectively to bring a political change in the country. All of them criticised the Gujarat model of development being canvassed across the country, saying that rights of marginalised communities and minorities were being violated more frequently.
They also paid tributes to the seven Amarnath pilgrims killed by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday night.
Yogendra Yadav from Swaraj Abhiyan, and farmer leader Sunilam, who are passing through Gujarat as part of their pan-India Kisan Mukti Yatra, also came to Mehsana to express their solidarity with the march.
However, minutes after the march was launched, it was stopped by police on a highway near Mehsana and the participants were detained and taken to the town.
Kumar and Reshma who had left for Ahmedabad were also detained when they were at a restaurant near Mehsana and taken to the town.
Inspector General of Police for Gandhinagar range that covers Mehsana, R B Brahmbhatt, said, “Yes, we have registered an offence since the rally was held without permission. If they will try to resume the rally, we will again register an offence against them.”
In a video released after filing of the FIR, Mevani said, “The Gujarat government and BJP have not learnt a lesson from the Una incident and they have once again tried to crush the voice of the Dalits by stopping this Azadi Kooch.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment Atmaram Parmar attacked on Mevani for inviting Kumar.
In an official release, Parmar said, “…by calling student leader of JNU Kanhaiya Kumar, who had taken side of terrorists and anti-nationals, to Gujarat in the name of a Dalit convention, Mevani has done ugly politics of insulting not only Gujarat, but the entire nation.”