16/08/2016 1:02 PM IST | Updated 16/08/2016 2:09 PM IST

Fresh Violence Erupts Against Dalits In Gujarat After Protest Rally In Una

The Dalits were attacked by upper caste people on their way back home.

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A protest rally against Dalit atrocities in Ahmedabad on 31 July 2016. (SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images)

On the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the nation to exercise greater tolerance towards Dalits in his Independence Day speech, fresh violence against lower-caste communities erupted in Una, Gujarat.

According to NDTV, Balubhai Sarvaiya, one of the four youths who were brutally beaten up in Una after being wrongly accused of killing and skinning a cow, needed eight policemen to escort him back to his village. He was among the 10,000 others who had gathered on a school ground to protest against the atrocities against Dalits in Gujarat yesterday. The assembled people promised not to remove dead cows or work at menial jobs that were badly paid, which have been their lot since generations.

After the rally ended around 5 pm, clashes broke out near Samter village, where many of the Dalits, riding motorcycles, were attacked by the upper castes. Samter is home to the 30 people who were arrested for tying up the four Dalit men to a car and thrashing them.

According to the Dalits, the police did little to protect them from the abusers, though some policemen too got hurt in the process of dispersing the mob using teargas and lathi-charge. Multiple reports seemed to suggest that the police action was too little too late.

A report in Scroll quoted one participant in the rally claiming that he and his friends were threatened with severe consequences by men carrying swords for saying "Jai Bhim" (used by the lower castes). They were asked them to say "Jai Mata Di" (used by upper caste Hindus) instead. There was general discontent among Dalits over their leaders not being around when they were facing the furious mob.

Earlier in the day, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani had addressed the Dalit yatra rally, where Kanhaiya Kumar, president of the JNU students' union and Radhika Vemula, mother of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, who committed suicide after being expelled from the Hyderabad University hostel, were also present.

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