125kg soap gift to Yogi: UP activists held for protesting arrest of Dalit group
Darapuri had taken permission to hold a seminar at the Press Club, but began a march to protest the forced deboarding and arrest of 45 Gujarat Dalit activists from a train at Jhansi, leading to his arrest.Updated: Jul 03, 2017 22:45 IST
Dalit activist and former IPS officer S R Darapuri was arrested with eight associates in Lucknow on Monday for defying prohibitory orders and taking out a protest march towards chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s residence.
Darapuri, associated with Bundelkhand Dalit Sena, had taken permission to hold a seminar at the Press Club at Qaiserbagh, but began a march to protest the forced deboarding and arrest of 45 Gujarat Dalit activists from a train at Jhansi.
SP (west) Vikas Chandra Tripathi tried to persuade him to cancel the march as section 144 of IPC. But Darapuri refused, leading to his arrest.
Police also arrested 23 members of Bundelkhand Dalit Sena for violating section 144 of IPC at other places in the city.
The 45 Dalit activists were carrying a 125kg bar of soap with the image of Buddha carved on it, which they want to gift to Adityanath to “cleanse his mentality towards Dalits”.
The gift is viewed as a tit-for-tat response against reports of officials distributing shampoo and soap bars to 100-odd Musahar Dalit families at a village in Kushi Nagar a day before their meeting with the chief minister this May.
Darapuri said his arrest showed the dictatorial attitude of the Adityanath government, which does not want any sort of opposition in the state.
Calling the distribution of toiletries to Dalits as “humiliation”, he said the Gujarat Dalit Sena, which wanted to “protest the humiliation” by gifting the 125kg soap, “were deprived of their democratic right to protest”.
Professor Ramesh Dixit of Lucknow University, who was arrested with Darapuri, said in a democracy, everyone has the right to express his views, but in BJP rule, expression of views is not possible.
Meanwhile, in a press communiqué, Rihai Manch has opposed the arrest of Darapuri and Ramesh Dixit, and called for the immediate release of all arrested activists.