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Jignesh Mevani’s Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch Calls off Protests and Highway Blockade

He personally visited villages in Rapar and other talukas of Kutch on Saturday to oversee the process of handing over of land possession to the local Dalits.

Meghdoot Sharon | CNN-News18

Updated:April 14, 2018, 2:18 PM IST
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Jignesh Mevani’s Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch Calls off Protests and Highway Blockade
File photo of Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani. (Image: Facebook/Jignesh Mevani)
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Kutch, Gujarat: The Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch called off its protest and proposed blockade of the Samakhyali Highway in Kutch district after the state government began procedures to hand over actual possession of land to Dalit families in the district. The RDAM, headed by independent MLA Jignesh Mevani, has stated that Dalits receiving possession of the land that was allotted to them 35 years ago, is a huge victory as it coincides with Ambedkar Jayanti.

Speaking to News18 a fortnight ago, Mevani had stated that he will camp in Kutch and fight for the issue of Dalits not being allotted physical possession of the land that was assigned to them as long as 35 years ago. Earlier this week, Mevani had announced that Dalit activists will block the Samakhyali Highway on Ambedkar Jayanti as the government was dragging its feet on giving actual possession of land to Dalits for a long time.

In January this year, Mevani had written letters to the state government and the Kutch district administration, saying that the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch will resort to stringent methods of protest if physical possession of approximately 3700 acres of land allotted about 35 years ago, is not handed over to the recipients that include Dalits and those of the Thakore community.

“We have called off the programme to block the Samakhyali highway. In the past 48 hours, the Kutch district administration has handed over possession of over 100 acres of land to recipients in Abdasa, Rapar and Mandvi talukas of Kutch district. This is a welcome move and I along with the Dalits who have actually received the land, will celebrate Ambedkar Jayanti by digging on these plots of land today. But at the same time, I am warning the government that if it discontinues this allotment or succumbs to pressure by anti-social elements who do not want the land transferred to Dalits, I will again resort to stringent forms of protest,” Jignesh Mevani said on Saturday.

He personally visited villages in Rapar and other talukas of Kutch on Saturday to oversee the process of handing over of land possession to the local Dalits. Meanwhile, in Ahmedabad, Dalit activists including Subodh Parmar, Jagdish Chavda and Bharat Shah of the RDAM, along with Bipin Roy of the Dalit Panther organization and Adivasi rights activist Raju Valvaikar were detained from Sarangpur in Ahmedabad, when they raised slogans against BJP leaders who had arrived at the statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.

After garlanding the statue of Dr Ambedkar, BJP MP Kirit Solanki, mayor Gautam Shah and other leaders were greeted by protests from the Dalit activists who shouted slogans against them. The police quickly stepped in and detained the five activists. “Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar is a hero not just for the Dalit community, but all Indians. Nobody can prevent me or anybody from garlanding his statue. For Dalits, the birth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar is as important as Diwali and these protests will not deter us,” Dr Solanki said.

Jignesh Mevani, in a video appeal on Friday, had asked Dalits not to resort to any kind of violence, but at the same time, they should democratically protest against any BJP leader who garlanded the statue of Ambedkar. “The BJP has failed the Dalits of this country and it is within our rights to democratically protest against leaders of the party,” Mevani had said.
| Edited by: Tarun Bhardwaj
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