For the last few months, Dalits in Gujarat have been agitating after gau-rakshaks attacked them. Now, they have launched a new campaign.
Dalits protesting against the Una flogging have decided to launch a postcard campaign called "Badbu Gujarat Ki (Stench of Gujarat)" - a counter to the tourism department's "Khushbu Gujarat Ki (Scent of Gujarat)" initiative spearheaded by Amitabh Bachchan.
The Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti will launch the campaign from Kalol near Ahmedabad on Tuesday, when thousands of postcards bearing the tagline 'Badbu Gujarat Ki' will be mailed to Bachchan's residential address in Mumbai. They plan to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi too.
The postcards will invite them to "visit Gujarat and get a taste of stink left by cow carcases which have not been disposed by protesting Dalits ever since they pledged against it following the Una atrocity incident," Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti convener Jignesh Mevani told PTI on Sunday.
So, why Bachchan?
According to Mevani, the Bollywood actor has created a fake image of Gujarat to propagate Modi's agenda.
"Amitabh Bachchan came to Gujarat upon invitation from then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, and talked only about Gujarat having good things like greenery, scent, progressive culture," he said.
"We have given up disposing carcasses. Hundreds of cows are lying dead and stinking all over the place. Dalits continue to die in gutter, caste division and untouchability have made them suffer," he said.
Furious at the policing by self-appointed cow protection groups, members of which beat up four men in July for ferrying carcasses, the Dalits of Saurashtra started dumping cow carcasses in government offices with a succinct message -- ask the 'Gau Rakshak' groups to dispose of the dead animals -- a job Dalits were burdened with.
Seven persons in Saurashtra also attempted suicide to protest the flogging of the men from the community by cow protectors on July 11. Videos circulating on social media showed the men cowering before the vigilante group as they were hit repeatedly with iron rods.
"Now that we have given up disposing dead cows, we will invite Bachchan and Modi to come to Gujarat, spend some time and enjoy 'badbu Gujarat ki'," Mevani said.
"This is about the conscience of Dalits to quit caste-based occupation that caste system imposes upon them. In response, thousands of Dalits have pledged not to pick up cow carcass, and in hundreds of villages it has been given up. This has also broken the myth that Dalits are solely dependent on this profession," Mevani claimed.
"Dalits being beaten up, either for disposing or not disposing carcasses, has angered them against the state government which is still not ready to accept our demands, including allotment of land to SC/ST, among others," he said.
Mevani said the community will hold a mass gathering in Ahmedabad on September 14 wherein 'rail roko' campaign will be planned. He also said that as part of the ongoing protest, Dalits will gherao the office of sub-divisional magistrate, if land allotted to Dalits by the state government at Saroda village in Dholka taluka of Ahmedabad in 2006 — which is still under alleged illegal possession of upper caste members of the village – is not given back in the possession of legal occupants within five days.
(With inputs from PTI)
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