Dalits firm on rally in Ahmedabad; cops want venue shifted
Ahmedabad, Jul 29: Dalit rights groups today vowed to hold a mass gathering on Sunday near the Collector office here to register their protest over brutal thrashing of their community members in Una taluka even if police deny them permission for the event.
As they announced the plan, community leaders alleged police have indicated permission will not be granted for the event, and accused the BJP Government of being "anti-Dalit".
However, police claimed they have only suggested the groups to shift the venue to a bigger place as the gathering at Collectorate would block the vehicular traffic on the adjacent Ashram Road and create chaos.
The gathering is being organised as a mark of protest against the July 11 thrashing of four Dalits youths in Una taluka of Gir-Somnath district for skinning a dead cow.
Addressing a press conference after a meeting with police, Dalit leaders alleged the law enforcement agency is denying them go-ahead at the behest of State's BJP Government.
"This is the same place where OBC leader Alpesh Thakor addressed a mass gathering of his community a few months back (organised as part of Patidar quota stir).
"Earlier, police gave permission to the Patel community to hold a rally at GMDC Ground. Why are they denying sanction to Dalits to organise their event? This shows the anti-Dalit mentality of the BJP Government," said Jignesh Mevani of Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti.
"During our meeting with police, officials gave us clear indications they will not grant permission to us. But we have clearly told them the event will take place even if they do not give us permission. We will not change our venue out of pressure," he asserted.
According to him, Dalits want the Government to hold talks with them and accept their demands, just like it did with the Patel quota leaders.
"After the Una incident, all Dalits are united and want their rights, which are denied by this Government since long. Apart from allocation of land to Dalits, we want the Government to set up Special Courts to hear atrocity-related cases. We also want more allocation of funds for our welfare," he said.
V B Patel, Police Inspector of Ranip, under whose jurisdiction the area falls, clarified they only advised the Dalit leaders to shift the protest venue. The organisers may invite the family members of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, whose suicide in January created uproar across India, and also JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar.
"Some of our leaders are in touch with Vemula's family and may invite them to attend our gathering. We are also planning to invite JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar," said Mevani.