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Jignesh Mevani backs Dalits’ fast unto death in Gujarat

IANS | Gandhinagar |

Around 40 people from a Gujarat village, including women and children, have started a fast unto death in Detroj of Ahmedabad district against alleged atrocities, discrimination and harassment by upper castes.

The Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, headed by Jignesh Mevani — now an MLA from Vadgam constituency, has alleged that despite much hype created by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the country about the Vibrant Gujarat model and good governance, the Gitapur Dalit villagers did not have either houses to live in or drinking water facility.

“These Dalits are facing a social boycott from the upper caste communities of the villages and they can’t buy essentials like milk or grain or other commodities owing to their caste.

“They had been complaining against this and unavailability of housing, water and electricity to former Chief Minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the present Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, but all their pleas have gone unheeded,” said Mevani.

It was for this reason that 16 men, 17 women and eight children were forced to sit on an indefinite fast-unto-death protest, he said.

“The Gitapur village panchayat does not allow them access to water, forcing them to travel one-and-a-half kilometers to get water. In 2013, in 2016 and in 2017 also they sat on fast-unto-death but failed to elicit any response from the authorities,” added Mevani.

The Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch is demanding prompt action from the authorities against the discriminators and against the authorities helping them and turning a blind eye to Dalits’ plight, immediate police protection to all the victim families, dropping of all false charges against them, and provision of housing, electricity and drinking water facilities for them.