Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani alleged on Thursday that online crowdsourcing platform Bitgiving closed down a campaign to gather funds for his movement following pressure from the government.
Mewani, in a series of tweets and Facebook posts,said he received a mail from the platform that purportedly said the campaign had to be closed because of an FIR lodged against him recently. The Dalit leader has been detained several times in the past three weeks.
“This is shocking behaviour. Under the pretence of an offence, this is an attempt to muzzle people’s movements,” Mewani told HT. “We aren’t an NGO, we don’t receive funds from any political party or corporate. If you stop even our crowdfunding efforts, how do we survive?” Bitgiving wasn’t available immediately for a response.
Mewani shot to the limelight as the leader of anti-caste protests by Dalits that swept Gujarat following the flogging of four scheduled caste men by alleged cow protectors in July in Una.
The incident comes two days before Mewani’s Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch launches massive railway blockades across the state to press their demands for punishment for the Una suspects and land for every Dalit.
Mewani’s organization said they were short of funds to even print banners and hence launched the crowdfunding campaign that, it said, gathered Rs 50,000 in half a day. “Bitgiving says it’s not in their mandate. Is fighting for the people, supporting movements not in their mandate?”a
“It is clear that if one takes on the government, they will face hostility from corporates. Is Bitgiving joining hands with the government?”
BitGiving rejected Mewani’s allegations. “The campaign, Dalit Asmita aur Astitva ki Ladai has been closed as it was brought to our notice that it violates our guidelines. We do not allow religious or political campaigns on BitGiving,” it said in a statement.