Mevani urges Modi to speak up on anti-Dalit violence

New Delhi, Jan 5 : Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani on Friday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi if Dalits in the country had a right to hold peaceful protest rallies and urged him to speak up on the violence against the community in the last three years.

“Dalits were attacked when they held peaceful rally in Bhima-Koregaon. Why is Modiji silent on violence against Dalits? He must clarify his stand,” he said while addressing a press conference here.

The Gujarat MLA recalled instances of Dalit atrocities in the past three years such as the Rohith Vemula suicide case, thrashing of Dalit youths in Gujarat’s Una, and Saharanpur caste clash.

Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani  

“Modiji calls himself an Ambedkarite, a follower of (B.R.) Ambedkar. Then why has he not spoken a word in these cases yet. There has been no action either. Why are Dalits not safe?”

“Do Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party government have any commitment to the annihilation of caste, which was Ambedkar’s ultimate goal,” Mevani asked.

Rubbishing the charges of inflammatory and provocative speech at Bhima-Koregaon which allegedly triggered caste tension between Dalits and Marathas, he said filing of an FIR against him was “a childish move” to tarnish his image.

Mevani said he had neither visited the Koregaon-Bhima event site, where violence on January 1 left one person dead, nor made any inflammatory or provocative speech.

He said the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh were threatened due to his growing popularity and were worried about 2019 elections.

Dalits would have to take to the streets if they were to fight fascist forces in the country to stop their exploitation, Mevani said, adding the Maharashtra government’s decision to file cases against him may anger Dalits, leading to more violence.

He made an appeal to the Dalits to maintain peace. Mevani said he would hold a Yuva Hunkar rally in Delhi on January 9.

“After the rally, I will go to Prime Minister’s Office with Manusmriti (the laws of Manu) in one hand and the Constitution (of India) in the other. We will ask Modiji ‘what do you choose’,” he said.