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Jignesh Mevani targets govt over stalling of Dalit wedding processions

Ahmedabad |¬†¬†Dalit MLA Jignesh Mevani on Tuesday accused the Gujarat government of being “casteist” and failing to ensure the safety of Dalits after some of their marriage processions were targeted by members of other communities.

He said the Vijay Rupani government in the state was a “mute spectator” while Dalits were facing discrimination. “A serious situation has arisen in Gujarat where Dalits cannot take out their marriage processions. Chief Minister Rupani has not uttered a single word on the incident,” Mevani told reporters here.

He said it was Rupani’s responsibility to appeal to people to stop behaving in a “hateful manner” against Dalits. “The Rupani government has become a mute spectator of the entire incident. Whatever happens to Dalits, we were going to do nothing, such is the casteist, callous and indifferent attitude of this government,” he said.

On Sunday, a Dalit wedding procession was blocked by members of an upper caste community at Khambisar village in Aravalli district, after which stones were pelted, leading to tension in the village.

In a similar incident at Sitvada village in Sabarkantha district, the wedding procession of a Dalit groom had to be provided police protection on Sunday after members of the OBC Thakor community opposed it.

Last Friday, the Thakor community members objected to a wedding procession as the groom was riding a horse on way to the marriage venue at Lhor village in Mehsana district.

Dubbing such incidents as “shameful and painful,” Mevani said, “In all such five incidents, Dalits had informed the police in advance. But despite that, the police, the BJP government could not ensure peaceful procession and that the Dalit groom could ride a horse.”

The Dalit leader, who is an Independent MLA from Vadgam, said neither Rupani nor state social justice minister Ishwar Parmar met the affected people.

He also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for being silent on atrocities against Dalits in Gujarat even as he referred to the Alwar gang rape incident in one of his public meetings.

“Modiji is busy cornering the Congress government of Rajasthan over the Alwar gang rape incident, but is not ready to say a word on what all is happening here,” he said. Mevani also accused the police of failing to protect Dalits in the state.

Referring to a video clip in which Aravalli’s Deputy Superintendent of Police Falguni Patel was allegedly seen abusing Dalits at Khambisar village after clashes erupted over the Dalit marriage procession, he demanded action against her. Mevani said Dalit leaders will organise a meeting on May 18 in the affected villages.

Human rights activist Martin Macwan called such incidents as cases of “anarchy and lawlessness”. “The BJP leaders say the issue should not be politicised. But this is a political question because the chief minister has remained silent even when the incidents took place despite the police having been informed well in advance,” said the Gujarat-based activist.

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