Other States

Will seek to unite Dadri, Una movements: activist

Jignesh Mewani  

Ahmedabad-based lawyer, journalist and Dalit activist Jignesh Mewani, who emerged as the face of the Una protests in Gujarat, is all set to launch an agitation in Uttar Pradesh, which goes to the polls next year.

Mr. Mewani is working to open a “new front” in U.P. anchored on building Dalit-Muslim unity, seeking to unite the Dadri and Una movements under one banner.

Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Mewani said a major part of his U.P. campaign would be to expose the “Gujarat Model” of development, while raising issues related to land reforms and land distribution. A cultural interaction in the wake of the “systematic saffronisation” of Dalits and awareness on moving away from occupations such as manual scavenging and skinning of cows would be taken forward. “We will go to the Dalits [in UP] and tell them that the Sabksa saath sabka vikas chant is for your oppression and atrocity. And not just Dalits; we will tell the common man, the farmers and Muslims. We will mobilise safai karmacharis and other Dalits active in movements,” Mr. Mewani said. “It is time to move beyond social justice and talk of livelihood issues. Not just asmita [pride], the fight is for astitva [existence].” From a middle-class family in Ahmedabad, Mr. Mewani has emerged among the most recognisable young Dalit leaders. Speaking about the achievements of the movement, he said the success should not be viewed just in the “electoral context.”

Beyond just elections

“Gujarat has only seven per cent Dalits and it is natural that its [the Una protest] political impact will be only to some extent. But today Dalits across India are watching the movement. People are getting energised. Tomorrow they could speak out elsewhere. It has also given new hope to the scattered Dalit movements and new leadership. What could be a bigger political relevance of the movement than the fact that the PM had to speak out?” While in U.P., Mr. Mewani, who is addressing his first meeting on August 27, plans to reach out to “democratic forces” across the spectrum, he intends to keep it “apolitical”.

There would be no attempt to forge a collaboration with BSP chief Mayawati either, he said. “Our demands are in themselves political,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 4:44:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Will-seek-to-unite-Dadri-Una-movements-activist/article14585420.ece

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