Written by Tarushi Aswani –
A 10-day march from Ahmedabad to Una on Friday to protest against atrocities against the Dalit community in Gujarat to gather thousands of Dalits, is being organised in the state.
Organizers said the march called ‘Aazadi Koon’ (March for Freedom) has been planned to invigorate the community and will cover a distance of around 350 km. The march comes after a number of protests by Dalits against upper-caste communities as well as the state government, which they view as unsympathetic to their cause, across Gujarat.
Jignesh Mewani of Una Dalit Atyachar Ladal Samiti, who will lead the march, said, “The foot march with end on August 15 in Una where thousands of Dalits will converge to observe ‘independence’. We want to give the message that we will not tolerate discrimination against the community anymore.”
“During the march, we plan to meet people and make them take an oath that they will not skin animals anymore. We will tell them to demand jobs under Digital India and Skill India initiatives which Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has been publicising,” Mewani said.
“At the same time, we will make them aware of our key demands and ask them to join us on Una on Independence Day. Never before in Independent India, have Dalits asserted their demands like this.”
Una town in Gujarat’s Gir Somnath district has become an epicentre of Dalit protests after the brutal thrashing of four scheduled caste men by alleged cow-protection vigilantes for skinning a dead cow last month.
At least six people have been arrested in connection with the case.