Police detain Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani for launching Freedom March without permission

The week-long Azadi Kooch (Freedom March) in Gujarat aims to raise issues Dalits face, speak out against mob lynching and atrocities against farmers.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2017 18:05 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
Gujarat Police,Dalit Leader,Jignesh Mevani
Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani being honoured by Ambedkar Mahasabha in Lucknow on August 27, 2016.(PTI File Photo)

Gujarat police detained Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and more than 100 activists of Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch on Wednesday within two hours of the group launching its week-long Azadi Kooch (Freedom March) from Mehsana. Police stepped in around 5.30 pm after the activists had marched around 5km despite the administration denying permission for the event.

Before the march, Mevani, accompanied by former JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar, addressed a rally at Mehsana to mark a year of Una flogging during which seven Dalits were assaulted by vigilante “gau rakshaks (cow protectors)” for skinning a dead cow. A video clip of the flogging went viral, sparking outrage.

Apart from raising problems Dalits face, the Azadi Kooch aims to speak out against mob lynching and atrocities against farmers. The march was to end in Tharad, after passing through the entire north Gujarat stretch.

Kumar, who was with the group only till the public rally, was detained from a highway restaurant near Mehsana city.

“All of us have been detained,” said Subodh Parmar, one of the participants. “We will decide on resuming the Kooch after we are released,” Parmar added.

The flogging victims, Balu Sarvaiya and his family members, did not join the march amid differences with Mevani, who emerged as Dalit leader after spearheading agitations against the Una assault.

On Tuesday, the Sarvaiyas made a representation to the government in Gandhinagar over “injustice done to Dalits”, while Mevani and Kumar addressed a Dalit convention in Ahmedabad.

First Published: Jul 12, 2017 19:00 IST