Over 5,000 Dalit protesters attend rally in Ahmedabad, vow to fight oppression

Ahmedabad: Thousands of Dalits protested in Ahmedabad on Sunday against an attack on their members by cow protection vigilantes.

Police surrounded the protesters in Ahmedabad, capital city of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat, to prevent any violence, as anger among Dalits mounts over the attack.

 Over 5,000 Dalit protesters attend rally in Ahmedabad, vow to fight oppression

People shout slogans as they attend a rally protesting attacks on Dalits in Gujarat. Reuters

Protest organiser Jignesh Mevani said Dalit youths were trying to kill themselves to protest the attacks and said none of the major political parties are willing to help them. "Neither the BJP nor Congress will come to our help," Mevani said of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the main opposition party.

"Only our united strength will help us fight the age-old oppression," the Dalit activist told the crowd, which police put at 5,000-strong.

Violent protests erupted this month after video footage emerged of an attack on four Dalit villagers who were taking a dead cow to be skinned. Cows are considered sacred by Hindus and killing them is banned in Gujarat, but the villagers said the animal had died of natural causes.

Dalit leaders told the rally that a 24-year-old man who drank poison to protest against the attack died of his injuries in hospital on Sunday. A senior hospital official in Ahmedabad confirmed the death.

"This is the failure of the Gujarat development model wherein youths have to consume poison to demand their rights," Mevani said.

The video of the attack showed the four half-naked men tied to a car as the activists took turns to thrash them with belts and batons at a crowded marketplace. Two more Dalits were beaten up after they tried to save the other four.

Updated Date: Jul 31, 2016 16:48:58 IST