Other States

March for Dalit pride draws huge support in Gujarat

The Dalit Asmita Yatra — or Dalit Pride March — started by a group of Dalit activists and civil society leaders to protest against atrocities on schedules castes is receiving huge support in villages where hundreds of Dalits are joining to end “caste-based discrimination” they face in their day-to-day life in Gujarat.

The 400 km yatra was launched in Ahmedabad on August 4 and will culminate at Una — where four Dalits were publicly flogged for skinning a dead cow — on August 14 and marchers will hoist a flag on Independence Day to seek “freedom from atrocities and caste-based discrimination.”

In each village en route, villagers, mostly Dalits or lower castes, gather to welcome the 60 or so people participating in the yatra. They hold meetings in which locals share their experiences about discrimination and then they take a pledge to not skin and dispose of dead animals in their villages and fight for their rights.

“Each village presents unique experience. In each village, people ranging from 200 to 500 gather and take a pledge against skinning dead animals or put up with any atrocity any longer,” said Pratik Sinha, a member of the yatra. Pratik is the son of late activist and human rights lawyer Mukul Sinha, who fought for justice to the victims of 2002 riots till his death in 2014. Besides, Pratik, his mother Nirjari is also participating in the yatra.

“This is for liberation of Dalits and we will spread this message across the country. En route to Una, we will stop at each village and tell Dalits to give up traditional works like sanitation, cleaning drainage and disposing dead animals. We will create awareness among them to seek alternative opportunities for themselves,” Jignesh Mewani, the face of the yatra and one of the organisers, had told the gathering while launching it from Ambedkar Chowk in Vejalpur area of western Ahmedabad.

Key participants in the yatra include former IPS officer Rahul Sharma, who had taken on the Gujarat administration during Narendra Modi's tenure, when he had prepared a set of two CDs containing call detail records of key persons during the 2002 riots triggered by the attack on Sabarmati Express in which 59 kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya were charred to death near Godhra railway station.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 6:51:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/March-for-Dalit-pride-draws-huge-support-in-Gujarat/article14562558.ece

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