The simmering anger of Dalits of Gujarat over the flogging of Dalit youths by Gau Rakshaks (cow protection squad) in Utna boiled over into a massive rally in Ahmedabad and they vowed not dispose of animal carcasses, clean sewer lines, two dirty jobs which the dalits do as a centuries old practice since the upper caste people refuse to do these dirty jobs. Tens of thousands of dalits marched through Ahmedabad and announced a march from Ahmedabad to Una between August 5 and August 15. They said they plan to gather in Una on August 15, India’s Independence day, to observe and “feel independence” there.
The Dalit Maha Sammelan in the Sabarmati area of Ahmedabad, organised by Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti (UDALS), flagged several pending Dalit issues, including justice in the Thangadh killing of three Dalit youths in 2012. Valji Rathod, father of one of the three youths killed in Thangadh of Surendranagar district, declared he would sit on a hunger strike in Gandhinagar from Monday. One more dalit man who had attempted suicide died yesterday.
Gujarat is witnessing widespread protests following the incident at Una where four Dalit youths were beaten up for skinning a dead cow on July 11. The victims were skinning a dead cow they had bought, when around six men intervened and started asking them how and where they got it. They accused the Dalits of killing the animal and started thrashing them. The assault was caught on camera and went viral when one of the accused uploaded it, cautioning people against killing bovine creatures unless they want to meet the same fate. The video showed several men stripping the victims, tying them to an SUV and beating them up with iron pipes and sticks.
To show protest over the incident the dalits of Gujarat have taken to the street and some of them are taking the extreme step and committing or attempting sucide.
“I was pained by the attack but I’m elated today that the pain that has been inflicted on my family has brought together the entire Dalit community,” said Jeetu Sarvaiyas, whose brother was among the four men attacked in Una, over 350 km from Ahmedabad.