New Delhi, January 09: Newly elected Gujarat legislator and Dalit leader, Jignesh Mevani called out the ‘Yuva Hunkaar Rally’ along with Assam peasant leader Akhil Gogoi to address Dalit activists on January 09, 2017, even when the Delhi Police denied permission citing an National Green Tribunal (NGT) order that had disallowed protests at Jantar Mantar.
Around 1500 police and paramilitary personnel, armed with tear gas and 10 water cannons, have been deployed at the venue. In spite of that, a large number of students from universities in New Delhi, women’s groups, teachers’ associations and activists associated with Mevani from across the country are expected to attend the rally.
On Monday, a tweet by the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police said, “No permission granted so far by Delhi Police to hold proposed protest at Parliament Street in view of NGT orders.” However, the organisers have claimed that their protest is on Parliament Street and not Jantar Mantar.
The purpose behind the rally is to demand the release of Chandrashekhar Azad, the Dalit leader arrested last June over caste clashes in Saharanpur.
The 37-year-old Mevani is accused in the case of violence in the recent clashes at Bhima-Koregaon near Pune, that eventually spread across Maharashtra.
Pune, January 04: Bhima Koregaon, a village 30 kilometres north-east of Pune, witnessed celebration of the 200th anniversary of the battle between British forces, including Mahar troops, and the Peshwa army. However, clashes broke out in villages around Bhima Koregaon. The violence occurred in the wake of the death of a 30-year-old Maratha youth and injuries caused to several people. The Dalit community began protesting in cities of Mumbai, Pune and nine other districts across Maharashtra. On January 3, they demanded a statewide bandh. Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra ordered a judicial probe by “a sitting judge” into the matter.
He said, “Every year, about 15,000 people assemble at the memorial. But this year the crowd was 3.5 lakh strong. Six battalions of police force were deployed, four of them placed at strategic points. As a result, despite attempts to trigger violence and riots, it was immediately curbed and major incident averted.”
What initiated as a caste based violence, later progressed into political firestorm.
Rahul Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress alleged that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) had envisioned the fact that Dalits “remain at the bottom” of the society.
He took to Twitter, “A central pillar of the RSS/BJP’s fascist vision for India is that Dalits should remain at the bottom of Indian society. Una, Rohith Vemula and now Bhima-Koregaon are potent symbols of the resistance.”
Denying these allegations, BJP sources said that the party was “concerned” about the Dalits. The reason being Dalit leaders such as Jignesh Mevani, who recently won the election in Gujarat, have marked their presence in Bhima Koregaon.
It is worth noting that the political aggression also echoed at the state and Centre level. Mohan Prakash, General Secretary in charge of Maharashtra, All India Congress Committee claimed, “Wherever the BJP is in power, its supporters and RSS execute such actions when events related to Dalit pride are organised”.
The Shiva Sena accused the current government of not having the knowledge about mischief mongers living in the state. “The state is bearing the brunt of the BJP having control of the Home department and politics in the police department.,” it alleged.
Meanwhile, Prakash Ambedkar, President of Bharatiya Republican Party Bahujan Mahasangh reportedly said that Hindutva outfits were behind the Bhima Koregaon attacks.
Police has booked two local Hindu right-wing leaders- Milind Ekbote of Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Pratisthan for inciting violence. Complaints have also been filed against Jignesh Mevani, Dalit leader and Gujarat MLA and Umar Khalid, Jawaharlal Nehru University student for instigating the crowd. Both of them were invited at the celebration of Bhima Koregaon battle.
It will be interesting to see the amount of truth that these allegations hold. On one hand, it is possible that the right-wing groups were the reason behind this violence. On the other hand, it is strange to accept the fact that BJP would instigate such a division in the society. This contrasts its policy of ‘one India.” However, it will be beneficial for its rivals, as this will affect the Hindu vote bank of BJP immensely.
Hundreds of supporters including activists, thinkers, writers and citizens came together in protest of the recent murder of senior journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh in Bangalore on Tuesday, September 12, 2017.
Prominent personalities participating in the protest included CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, well known social activist Medha Patkar, noted journalists P. Sainath and Sagarika Ghose, Swaraj India leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, documentary producers Anand Patwardhan and Rakesh Sharma, and civil rights activists Teesta Setalvad, Kavitha Krishnan and Jignesh Mevani and film producer Prakash Rai.
Wearing badges that said ‘#IAmGauri’, the protestors began a rally from Sangolli Rayanna Railway Station to the Central College grounds where a meeting was held. More than 300 policemen were deployed in and around the surrounding areas of Central College.
An emotional Indira Lankesh, mother of Gauri Lankesh said, “She [Gauri] fought with every fibre of her body. For me, all of you are my Gauris.”
Many protestors marching at the protest shouted slogans such as ‘Gauri Lankesh Amar Rahe’ and the demand of the protest was to book the assailants who committed the murder.