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Poor and weak being crushed in Gujarat, says Rahul Gandhi

By Ians English

Una (Saurashtra), July 21: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday came down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that in his home state, the weak and the poor were being crushed, even as he visited the home of a Dalit man whose four sons were brutally flogged on July 11 for skinning a dead cow.

Gandhi, who flew into Diu, and from there drove straight to the home of Babubhai Sarvaiya in Samadhiyala village of Una, announced assistance of Rs 5 lakh for the family.

Rahul Gandhi

"I met those families and that mother whose sons were beaten up by 40 persons. The father told me that they don't see any future ahead for them. He was saying that in Modi's Gujarat we are daily beaten up and crushed," Gandhi told reporters at Rajkot airport while leaving Gujarat in the evening.

[Alert now, Rahul Gandhi visits Dalit victims in Una]

He said in the country, "this is the fight between two ideologies. On one side there are Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel, Ambedkar and on the other side there are RSS, Golwalkar and Modi ji."

"Whoever raises his voice against this ideology, irrespective of any section, whoever fights for education, whoever was challenging the big corporate, is crushed. I told that mother that she doesn't need to fear. The people of Gujarat and Congress party are with them," he continued.

At Rajkot, he met Dalit youths who had attempted suicide in protest and are in hospital.

Gandhi was accompanied by the party's Gujarat affairs in-charge Gurudas Kamat, state Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki and other party leaders here as well as the party's Dalit leader Kumari Selja.

"A few days back a video was watched by entire India. I also watched it. Some time back I went to Hyderabad where one youth had committed suicide. The Delhi-based (Central) government attacked his family. It attacked those youths who were seeking their right. Today I visited Gujarat where 11 persons have in separate cases attempted suicide," the Congress leader said, and added that nobody seemed to have a right to speak.

"This means that in entire Gujarat, those who are weak, whether they are from any section, those who are poor, are being crushed," he asserted.

Scores of people thronged Samadhiyala village in Una taluka (tehsil) of Gir-Somnath district as the Congress leader spent time in the village.

While freely interacting with them, Gandhi asked Jitu Sarvaiya, Babubhai's nephew, if this was the first time or they had been suffering caste discrimination for long.

"There was nothing new in this, this is quite normal," Sarvaiya said.

Rahul's question in Hindi was, "Yahan chhua-chhut kya pehle se hain ya abhi hain."

Jitu, 20, is an engineering student and the only educated member of the family. He said that since there were no work avenues they were engaged in the business of skinning skin of dead animals for the tanneries.

Jitu said, "We don't want money, but we wish support for sustenance and livelihood. We clear the dirt of the society and this is what we are given in return by the society."

Gandhi sat with the family and held Babubhai Sarvaiya's hand as they all became emotional. The Congress Vice President shared tea with the Dalit family, something they are not used to by high-caste people.

He watched the video clip of the assault on the youth at the village, which had gone viral and the incident has been widely condemned.

Jitu, who played the translator during the conversation, later told reporters that, "He gave us a patient hearing and heard the other problems being faced by us. He even shared his number with me, just in case for any future need."


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