End atrocities against Dalits: Over 3,000 attend meet in Gujarat for murdered dy sarpanch
Demanding an end to the atrocities against Dalits in the state, over 3,000 members from the community across Gujarat and neighbouring Maharashtra Monday attended the condolence meet for Jalila village deputy sarpanch Manji Solanki who was murdered allegedly by upper-caste men on July 19.
With chants of “Jai Bhim” and “Baba saheb amar rahe”, the Dalits belonging to various political parties and non-government organisations demonstrated outside Solanki’s house at Jalila village in Botad district, demanding justice for him and condemning the rising incidents of atrocities against the community members in Gujarat.
Referring to the state government as “manuwadi sarkar”, the protesters raised slogans against Gujarat Home Minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja, alleging that the atrocities against the Dalits have increased in his tenure.
Addressing the agitating crowd, Mavji Sarvaiya, Bhavnagar district president of Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, said, “Baba saheb (Dr B R Ambedkar) had spread the message of ‘educate, agitate and organise’ and we must not forget it during the times when Dalit atrocities are at its peak in Gujarat. The Dalit community will have to come forward and unite.”
Local Congress MLA Pravin Maru, who was also present, told the crowd that the state government must fulfil the demands of the victim’s family. “The sacrifice of Manjibhai must not go in vain,” said the MLA from Gadhada of Botad.
Later, Maru told The Indian Express that it is only when the state and police machinery are put under pressure post an incident, they provide security to Dalit families in Gujarat. “We are witnessing a worrying trend of atrocities against the Dalits in the state and the government should provide a safe atmosphere.”
Another Dalit activist, a namesake of Manji Solanki, from Kariyani village in Botad told the crowd, “Whenever leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party have appealed to the public to stop atrocities against the Dalits, the violence has actually manifolded. After Una flogging, addressing the perpetrators, Modiji (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) had said “don’t beat my Dalit brothers, hit me if you want”. Have the atrocities stopped after that?”
One of the victims of the Una flogging, 53-year-old Balu Sarvaiya – who, along with his two sons, wife and other relatives, was flogged by a group of men claiming to be gaurakshaks (cow vigilantes) three years ago – was, in fact, present on Monday to express solidarity with the Solanki family.
“Not much has changed for us in the past three years as we still battle caste discrimination everyday. When the assault happened, the then Chief Minister Anandiben Patel had promised us that she would take action, but the matter hasn’t even reached the court yet. I have come here to show solidarity with the Solanki family that they are not alone in this battle,” said Sarvaiya.
Devji Sonara, a resident of Dhandhuka asked if Dalits have the right to live with dignity. “Why does it bother people if we dress up nicely and are successful in life? The government has failed to protect the Dalit communities in villages and it is a major reason why families are migrating to cities today.”
“People in villages harass the Dalits mentally and physically and often force them to sell their land at a cheaper rate,” said Premji Solanki, a resident of Mumbai, who hails from Limda village.
Deepak Solanki, younger brother of deceased Manji said they demand swift and strictest punishment for the accused so that an example be set for the society. Heavy police presence was seen in the village.
“Security will be provided to the Solanki family on a 24/7 basis till the situation demands. We have controlled the situation and all nine accused have been arrested,” said a senior police officer of Botad.
Courtesy : The Indian Express