Very successful press conference at the Press Club of India, New Delhi by Jignesh Mevani, lawyer and Dalit activist from Gujarat. Very good attendance. Lot of questioning by journos’ almost amounting to interrogation, which Jignesh tackled very well. Jignesh Mevani was at the same time fire and brimstone lashing away at Mr. Modi and the BJP, and also Captain Cool as he suavely and minutely fielded the numerous questions from journalists, mostly representing the Gujarat newspapers. He resigned from the AAP today to keep the movement above party politics.
Four things about the Gujarat Dalit movement that emerged from his hour-long Press Conference, were –
1) the spirited, spontaneous Dalit protest of resistance to severe repression , i.e. the flogging of four Dalit youths at Una on 11th July, 2016, and they being shown on live Video by the perpetrators of being dragged by a vehicle to the Police Station;
2) the Dalit community’s refusal to continue with such undignified menial caste occupations as disposing animal caracasses and cleaning sewers;
3) the demand by the Una Dalit Atyachar Ladai Samiti. of which Mevani is the Convenor, for land reforms : State govt should provide five acres of land per Dalit family; and
4) the emerging extension of the movement of the Dalits to include other supportive groups like Muslims, farmers and OBCs as happened during the Chalo Una Asmita March. Jignesh Mevani said they would also like to expand the movement to the national level and not restrict it to the State of Gujarat only. To keep the movement above any controversy, Jignesh Mevanii resigned from the Aam Admi Party today at this Press Conference.
The slogans of the movement were very original and creative, like ” ” गाय की दुम तुम रखो, हमें हमारी ज़मीन दो” (originally in Gujarati – “Gaaye nu puchhdu taame rakho, amne amaari jameen aapo” which translated into English means ” You keep the cow’s tail, give us our land.”).
Dr Aurobindo Ghose , General Secretary, Peoples’ Rights Organisation, A Human Rights Body.
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