Eight dalits, returning from a massive gathering in Una of Saurashtra in Gujarat, were attacked on Monday. Of the eight injured, six are undergoing treatment at the Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad. They were on their way back to their native village Bhavnagar when the incident happened at Samter village, near Una.
The victims had gone to attend a gathering that was organised under the aegis of Una Dalit Atyachar Ladai Samiti as a mark of protest against the public flogging of four youths at Mota Samadhiyala last month. During the event, dalits from across Gujarat demanded land and announced that they would not dispose carcasses of animals.
Pratik Sinha, of the Jan Sangarsh Manch, who took part in the event, described the programme as a “resounding success” considering that it is for the first time that there has been a dalit uprising since 1984. “They have raised the pertinent issue of land. The slogan—keep cows, give us land—has been very effective," Sinha said.
The 10-day Dalit Asmit Yatra, which began from Ahmedabad and culminated in Una, covered a distance of more than 350km on foot and vehicles.
In the presence of Rohith Vemula’s mother Radhika, student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and Dalit leaders from across Gujarat, the gathering demanded that each dalit family be given five acres of land.
Jignesh Mewani, one of the organisers of the event, said implementing the vow of not lifting carcasses will be difficult, adding, “but then, B.R. Ambedkar had warned the dalits of the struggles that awaited them”.
He observed that giving land to dalits is practically possible as every village had a government waste land which could be used for the purpose.
Mewani warned that the dalits would resort to rail roko andolan from September 15 if their demands were mot met.
He alleged that the attacks on dalits after the event was part of a conspiracy as the attacks did not take place in Samter alone but at other places as well. “In some cases, attackers were hiding behind the bushes,” he said.