Exasperated with repeated insults and attacks on Dalits in Gujarat, firebrand activist Jignesh Mewani has started a helpline number where complaints about caste atrocities can be registered.
Mewani, 43, presently a Congress legislator from north Gujarat, came to limelight during the state-wide protests against the July 2016 public flogging by cow vigilantes of a Dalit family in Una of Gir Somnath district for skinning a naturally dead bovine.
The reasons for which Dalits in Gujarat have faced attacks by higher caste people during last few years include riding a horse as a part of wedding procession, dressing fashionably, driving brand new motorcycles, twirling moustache, drawing water from village well, drinking water from the common pot in school and several other such simple acts.
“Brutalities on Dalits have increased manifold during the Sangh Parivar’s rule in Gujarat,” Jignesh Mewani told The Statesman about the reason for starting the helpline number for Dalits to register their complaints.
In several cases of atrocities against Dalits, the police do not lodge FIRs and urge the complainants to go for a ‘settlement’ with the accused, he said.
“Even in cases where FIR is registered, the conviction rate in atrocity cases in Gujarat is less than five per cent,” said the Dalit activist, stressing the need for a helpline.
There are no special courts in Gujarat to try the atrocity cases, he added.
The helpline number, 9724344061, would be managed by a close associate of Mewani who would act on the information provided and take up the issue with appropriate authorities.