Bhima-Koregaon controversy: Jignesh Mevani asks Narendra Modi if Dalits have the right to take out a peaceful rally in India

Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani on Friday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence over atrocities committed against Dalits in the country. Addressing a press conference in the national capital, Mevani also asked the prime minister to clarify if or not Dalits have the right to take out a peaceful rally in India.

Naming multiple incidents which have taken place after Modi took office (Rohith Vemula's death, Una violence, Saharanpur violence), Mevani alleged that the prime minister either stays silent or takes no concrete action when Dalits are affected. He asked for the government to make its position clear on how casteism will end in India.

 Bhima-Koregaon controversy: Jignesh Mevani asks Narendra Modi if Dalits have the right to take out a peaceful rally in India

File image of Jignesh Mevani. Courtesy: Facebook/@Jignesh Mevani

"Why are Dalits unsafe in this country? Will we ever talk about removal of casteism? We remember Babasaheb Ambedkar for the Constitution but he also had another goal: annihilation of caste," said Mevani.

Taking on Modi's pet projects, Mevani added, "The prime minister talks of Make in India, Digital India but a casteless society is important too. We have Chandrayaan, Mangalyaan but caste still exists. It is time for the government and prime minister Modi to tackle this problem."

Talking about his controversial speech about the Bhima-Koregaon issue, which allegedly erupted violent protests, Mevani said, "I am an MLA and an advocate. I know the Constitution and the law. My speech is online and anyone can see it. It's not inflammatory. The BJP has been stung by winning only 99 seats in Gujarat and is attacking me. We must be allowed to protest legally. If an MLA can be targeted like this, then what about the common man."

Mevani also pointed out that he was not part of the Maharashtra Bandh despite being in Maharashtra. He said that he didn't even attend the conference in Mumbai after the police declined permission for the same.

"Won't targeting me offend Dalits? You should ensure the rule of law, not target an established Dalit leader like me. I appeal that those who have been offended by the action against me should not take to the streets," said Mevani

He also said that there would no compromise with societal justice and he will continue to follow Ambedkar's values. He also said that he will take out a rally in Delhi with other youth leaders and will go to the prime minister and ask him to choose between the Manusmriti and the Constitution.

He ended his address by saying that the failure of law and order in Maharashtra is the fault of the government and those in charge must answer.

The Mumbai Police had on Thursday declined permission to a day-long student convention in which Mevani and JNU student leader Umar Khalid were to take part in Mumbai. The Mumbai Police swooped on Bhaidas Hall in the city's western suburb of Vile Parle, and stopped the Left-leaning Chhatra Bharati's 'All India Students Summit', which the two were to address later.

However, according to NDTV, the organisers are planning to screen the talk online. The report quoted Sachin Bansode from Chatra Bharti, the organizers of the event, as saying, "They (Mevani and Khalid) are both at a secure place in the city. We will hold the exact same programme online on 10 January, and they will address the students then."

The police, however, has maintained that permission was not granted for the programme and their position on that has not changed. It had denied permission for the planned convention, citing prohibitory orders that were imposed in Mumbai after Wednesday's state-wide shutdown.

Opposing the police's move, Chhatra Bharati members staged noisy protests, raised anti-government slogans and attempted to squat outside the venue on Thursday. Chhatra Bharati vice-president Sagar Bhalerao said that the day-long event was planned long ago, and Mevani, Khalid, and others were all listed as speakers.

Simultaneously, the Pune Police registered an FIR against the two leaders for allegedly making inflammatory speeches at a meeting in Shaniwar Wada on 31 December. The police booked Mevani and Khalid for "inciting passions" between communities following a complaint by a student, Akshay G Bikkad.

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Updated Date: Jan 05, 2018 14:23:14 IST