Bahujan Samajwadi Paty (BSP) chief Mayawati on Thursday accused the BJP government in Gujarat of creating an atmosphere of fear for Dalits, saying she felt the pain of the Una victims when cow vigilantes flogged them on July 11.
The Dalit parliamentarian and four-time chief minister of Uttar Pradesh met the victims recouping at a state-run hospital in Ahmedabad, and assured them help.
“They are still so scared. There is an atmosphere of fear,” Mayawati said.
“I was shocked to see the video ... they were tied to a car, their shirts off. One by one the accused were hitting them on their back and legs. When I saw Dalits being hit … I felt the pain on my back.”
She said after Muslims, Dalits are being targeted by the BJP.
Mayawati asked Dalits, Muslims, tribals, and people of backward classes to unite against oppression in Gujarat, a BJP stronghold that votes for a new assembly late next year.
“I was shocked that neither the Congress raised the issue, nor the BJP government was moved. The Gujarat government took action only after I raised the issue in Parliament,” she said.
The Dalit beatings in Una thrust into the national limelight after Mayawati’s outburst in Parliament on July 18, putting the ruling BJP on the back foot. The Dalit debate soured after Uttar Pradesh BJP leader Dayashankar Singh compared Mayawati to a prostitute, forcing the party to expel him and placate Dalits — a powerful electorate the BJP is trying to woo to win the 2017 state polls.
Mayawati said Singh’s rant was the “BJP’s plan to prevent me from visiting Gujarat”.
She met Balu Sarviya, head of the Una family which was targeted by vigilantes enforcing a ban on cow slaughter. The self-styled cattle protectors accused the family of killing cows, though the Dalits traditionally dispose of dead animals and skin them for their hide.
Seven members of the Sarviya family were attacked; four of them were discharged by the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital three days ago, but they voluntarily stayed back.
The family took them home after Mayawati’s visit. The Dalit leader promised Rs 2 lakh to the family.