Dalits from Mumbai too had participated in the rally and warned the government to end atrocities committed against members belonging to their community.
Thousands of Dalits gathered at Una in Gujarat to protest against the atrocities committed against their community members. The flogging of four Dalit men by alleged cow protection vigilantes had grabbed headlines recently and this incident was raised in the parliament too. Dalits gave a stern message to the government that they won’t tolerate any injustice being meted against members belonging to their community. They have given 30 days to the government to provide five acres of land to Dalit families failing which they will intensify their agitation.
The consolidation of Dalits ahead of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh election is a challenge for the government which is trying hard to lure them. The 10 day Dalit Pride Yatra had commenced from Ahmedabad and ended in Una where seven Dalits were publicly flogged for skinning a dead cow by local cow vigilante group on July 21. Thousands of Dalits and social activists holding posters and garlanded photos of Baba Saheb Ambedkar joined the yatra to mark a new era in Dalit movement. Muslims too came forward to support Dalits as both the communities are attempting to create a new political force.
Sanket Kamble, a student from Government Law College, Mumbai said, “All Dalit students are united to protest against injustice being meted against members of our community. We have issued a warning to the government to end discrimination against Dalits and whatever incidents have been happening for years can’t go on forever. The government has been using Dalits as vote banks and has always tried to lure them before the onset of election. They make false promises about uplifting Dalits but fail to fulfil them.”
RPI (A) leader Ramdas Athawale said, “Dalits have come on streets for demanding social justice from the government. I am sure that the Modi government will take steps to end atrocities committed against them.”
Dalits also took a pledge to end the disposal of dead animals and seek land from government for pursuing other tasks for earning their livelihood.
Rohith Vemula’s mother Radhika Vemula who had recently embraced Buddhism said she was unhappy with the caste discrimination prevailing in the Hindu religion. She unfurled the flag at a school ground in coastal town in Gir Somnath district and said, “I will fight for providing justice to my community and son till my last breath. I will not let my son’s sacrifice go waste. India belongs to all, not one caste or religion. Congratulations to Dalits of Gujarat for forcing Anandiben to resign as CM.”
“We have to fight for our rights. Enough is enough now. We will speak and raise our voice against injustice and will not tolerate any atrocity or discrimination in any form now,” said a participant Jivabhai Vankar.
People belonging to other communities attacked Dalits and abused them. They also pelted stones on vehicles carrying Dalits to Una. Many of them had to take protection in the local police station as they were finding it difficult to return home. They requested the police to offer security to them.