Dalit protests spread across Gujarat

Mevani broke into heated arguments with police when he was being detained in Saraspur suburb of Ahmedabad.

Ahmedabad, Publish Date: Feb 19 2018 12:14AM | Updated Date: Feb 19 2018 12:14AM
Dalit protests spread across GujaratFile Photo

A day ahead of the first budget session of the new Gujarat Assembly, Dalit leader and lawmaker JigneshMevani was detained by police here on Sunday amid state-wide protests against death of Dalit activist BhanubhaiVankar.

Mevani broke into heated arguments with police when he was being detained in Saraspur suburb of Ahmedabad. 

"Gujarat does not belong to your father... give me your buckle number, I am an elected MLA and you have no business to insult me," a furious Mevani shouted at a police constable, after he and 100 others were detained.

When police was taking him out of his car, he claimed he was being manhandled and an elected legislator could not be treated like this. The MLA alleged the cops had barged into his car, pulled out the ignition keys and broke them.

Police denied the charges. Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, J.K. Bhatt told reporters: "It is wrong to say that police ill-treated the respected legislator and we will submit our report to the state Assembly about the incident."

"He (Mevani) may have misbehaved but we have not. It is normal that there will be some arguments when a person is being detained by police," he added.

The Dalit activist who was elected as an Independent from Vadgam constituency from north Gujarat was taken to the police' Special Operations Group office in Juhapura area in the evening where scores of supporters demanded his release.

Besides Mevani, hundreds of protestors were detained from various places in Ahmedabad while staging demonstrations.

Road-blocks, burning of vehicle tyres and slogan-shouting were witnessed on several state highways and several parts of national highways. At some places, police conducted baton charges to disperse the crowds.

Angry protests were seen in Gandhinagar, Unjha, Chanasma and Patan in north Gujarat and Morbi in Saurashtra over the death of Vankar.

Amid this, the political climate has heated up in Gujarat with the month-long Budget Session beginning on Monday and the spirited Congress bracing to corner the government on several issues. The Congress, led by young Leader of Opposition PareshDhanani, is an upbeat mood after winning 77 seats in the 182-member House. 

Vankar, 60, had on Thursday set himself on fire at the Patan district collectorate demanding physical possession of land allotted to a Dalit family and was soon after hospitalized with critical burn injuries. He succumbed to his burn injuries on Friday night at a private hospital in Ahmedabad.

What led to widespread anger was that Vankar had resorted to self-immolation on the premises of Patancollectorate in the presence of police, ambulance and fire-fighters after a week-long notice to the authorities. He had been seeking physical and legal possession of the land allotted to the Dalit families by the state government for some time.

Ever since his death, an adamant Vankar's family has been refusing to accept the dead body and put forth a charter of seven demands before the state government. 


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