Will ask Dalits to not vote for BJP: Jignesh Mewani

JAIPUR: When Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani announced at a press conference that he would set about getting Dalits to vow not to vote for BJP, there was some disbelief. “If not for BJP, then who?” he was asked. “That is for the people to decide. We want a party that will work for the people,” he said, leaving the reporter who raised the question confused by the apparent ambiguity. Mewani and social activists toured Neem ka Thana in Sikar and Khairtal in Alwar on Sunday to meet people who had suffered at the hands of police on Bharat Bandh on April 2.
Aruna Roy of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan said Rajasthan was allowing the rampant spread of hatred and violence and instead coming down harshly on people seeking to spread peace and love. “We want to assert that we will not allow the state to impose Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code to keep out people like Jignesh Mewani. For the common people, the streets are a site of mobilization.” Mewani was earlier prevented from addressing a meeting at Nagaur. On Sunday, the administration imposed Section 144 of CrPC in areas he intended to visit.
Roy said the government must fix responsibility for the large number of arrests, and a special investigation team must probe the violence unleashed by arms of the state. If the government does not order a probe, then the people’s movements will come together to conduct a survey and place its findings in the public domain, she said.

Activists say over 400 people are still detained in jails across the state after arrests in the wake of the April 2 bandh to prevent the apparent dilution of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act by the Supreme Court.

Abhirami, coordinator of the National Dalit Movement for Justice, said the problems were not Rajasthan’s alone. “There were seven deaths in Madhya Pradesh in the wake of April 2. Five of the dead are Dalits. In one case of a man receiving a bullet wound, no FIR has been registered. One man died despite taking a bullet in the leg – it is a clear case of medical negligence. Under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, there is provision for compensation of Rs 4 lakh. This has not been offered,” she said.
Mewani said it was only to be expected that the changes brought to the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act by the Supreme Court would cause anger among the affected communities. “No assurance was made to the people that the diluted provisions would be restored,” Mewani said.
Activists are demanding release of all innocent Dalits detained during the bandh. “False cases must be dropped. Even government servants have the right to take a day off and protest on the streets. The Constitution allows it,” Aruna Roy said.


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