A fortnight ago, dalit leader and Congress MLA from Vadgam Jignesh Mevani launched a Swabhiman Helpline for the support of dalits, women, scheduled tribe, DNT and Muslims in Gujarat.
Even as Mevani and his team are still trying to use social media to spread the word for the Swabhiman Helpline Number 9724344061, just a few days into it, the helpline has started getting as many as 30 calls in a day.
“I have been getting many calls after the Una flogging incident. It is my responsibility as well to help people out,” Mevani told THE WEEK. He alleged that the atrocities on dalits, women and Muslims have been on the rise ever since the BJP came to power and Gujarat is no exception. Alleging callous attitude of the authorities, Mevani questioned where the people would go.
According to him, even the recent case of June 4 in which a group of upper caste men allegedly chopped off a thumb of a dalit in Patan district was communicated to them through the Helpline. The attack was the result of a minor issue of a tennis ball of the victim’s son straying where a group of upper caste people were playing.
A few people have been arrested and stringent IPC sections have been applied after representations.
The 42-year-old lawmaker said that there have been at least nine cases in which they have succeeded in getting FIRs registered ever since the Helpline was launched.
Vinod Parmar, handling the Helpline, cited an instance in which a dalit woman in the western part of the city had to sit in the police station a week ago to get an FIR registered on her complaint. “It is only after our intervention that the police registered an FIR after more than 12 hours,” he said.
Every now and then there have been reports of atrocities on the dalits for flimsy reasons like sporting a beard, getting on to a horseback, flaunting good glares, keeping a moustache and so on.
Alleging that the society is not ashamed of the feudal nature and the political class remains indifferent, Mevani said such atrocities would end the day the caste system ends.