To protest the arrest of Jignesh Mevani by Assam Police, Dalit households of more than 1,000 villages across Gujarat will plunge themselves into darkness for 15 minutes on the night of May 1. The day is marked as Gujarat Foundation Day.
Lights will be switched off in these households (during the allotted 15 minutes) also to symbolise the grave darkness looming large over Indian political-scape.
Assam police, in coordination with Gujarat police, arrested Mevani on April 20 late night, accusing him of fomenting inter-religious discord on the basis of a tweet in which he blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for refusing to speak up to stop recent incidents of communal violence.
Announcing the programme, veteran Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan said, in each of the nearly 1,000 villages, Dalit men, women and children would gather and sign a petition addressed to the Gujarat chief minister asking him to ensure the release of not just Mevani but also take back all the cases instituted against Dalit individuals as also other marginalised sections for political reasons as part of general amnesty.
“This type of general amnesty has been announced in the past, and includes the Patidar quota agitators,” noted the draft letter sent to Dalit activists to draw up a massive signature campaign.
“Similarly, cases against nearly 2,000 persons protesting the name change of Marathwada University to Ambedkar University were recalled. Cases were also withdrawn against those who took part in the Bhima Koregaon agitation,” Macwan’s letter listed.
The draft letter, calling the treatment meted out to Mewani “abusive”, said, it is highly unlikely that the Assam BJP leader’s complaint against the Gujarat Dalit leader was made without the knowledge of the BJP leadership.
Calling the arrest and the manner in which the Assam police came down to Gujarat to nab him “an insult to the Dalit identity”, the letter said, the manner in which the whole operation took place should be investigated, and those responsible for showing disrespect to Mevani should be made to apologise to him.