Veteran Gujarat Dalit leader Martin Macwan, who runs a rights organisation Navsarjan Trust, on Wednesday stated that the community has developed a unique brass coin with the question engraved: “Will the 1947 dream of untouchability-free India be a reality in 2047?”
Macwan told media persons at the Dalit Shakti Kendra that his organisation runs in Sanand that hundreds of Dalits from Gujarat would launch a campaign from August 1 to August 7 to demand that the coin be etched on the new Parliament building coming up in New Delhi.
“This journey, called “Bhim Rudan (the lament of Bhim),” is in memory of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar and his dream to see untouchability being vanquished from the country, Macwan, whose organisation has been constantly documenting the sufferings and issues of Dalits and taken it with the governments that be, said.
The brass coin was made after melting 2,450 kg brass utensils that were bought by village people to make the huge coin. The humongous coin has been made in Ahmedabad by craftsmen, Vishwa Ranjan and Ballu.
Martin said,”We have made a film on this coin that we shall release next year. We have spent Rs 6.5 lakh to get the huge coin made and this entire amount has been donated to us by our supporters. The response was enormous, we had to refuse people to please stop bringing in more utensils.”
The coin weighs 1,000 kg, is of 2047 mm diameter and stands 10 feet. The coin has the image of Dr BR Ambedkar, on one side, and Lord Buddha in his ‘bhumisparsh mudra.’
Macwan said, “We may be celebrating 75 years of freedom this year, but the issue of untouchability issue has yet not been addressed. It’s a collective failure of all political parties that they have not been able to eradicate untouchability from this country after seven and a half decades. Through this coin journey to Delhi, we want to ask people when this problem will go.”
To make their message more impactful, the word “untouchability” has been engraved on the coin in 15 different languages, which are spoken in the country. Macwan stated that they had already sent a letter to the central government, informing them of their arrival and their purpose.
“Our demand is simple, keep this coin in the Parliament as a reminder to the MPs and other leaders that it is their raj-dharma to obliterate untouchability and to remember that it is still not gone from our country,” said Martin.
The route will be Ahmedabad – Rajasthan – Haryana- Delhi. While explaining their plans for Delhi, the Dalit leader added, “We will stay 24 hours in Delhi as we’re all dignified people, we have also given them the arrival notice. If they (government) accept this, then we’ll be happy, if not, then we’ll return.”
People from across the states of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan are also hoping to join this moment, according to Macwan.
The veteran Dalit leader rolled out official numbers to estblish the continuing atrocities on Dalits and how their Constitutional rights are being denied. He said from 1947 until now as many as 25,947 Dalits have been killed and 54,903 Dalit women have been raped.
Not only Dalits, he said as many as 5,356 tribals (Scheduled Tribes) had been murdered and 22,004 tribal women were raped. A total of 2,11,731 atrocities on tribals have been registered since 1978.
Even these numbers, Macwan said were only of the police complaints that have been registered, while “We still don’t have access to authentic information on atrocities.” More significantly, he said, “we still don’t have the exact numbers of atrocities on Dalit-Muslims and Dalit- Christian people.”
Specifically asked why they were insistent on having the coin etched on the new Parliament building since there is controversy surrounding it, Macwan said, “We could oppose the construction of new parliament but we thought that untouchability is a bigger issue facing the country more than the new parliament building which is comparatively a minor issue.”
He said, “The donation was made to strengthen the resolve, if a mandir can be made, a brand new parliament can be made, then us asking this question (of untouchability resolution) is also valid.”
He said they would also distribute a smaller version of this coin to the national parties and all the Chief Ministers of the country to remind them of these issues since it is the responsibility of the States to make sure that the Constitutional rules and rights are implemented properly. Further, more miniatures will be distributed to all the MPs.