Worried over impact on assembly polls, Gujarat govt denies permission for freedom march to Dalit leader

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The Mehsana district authorities have cancelled the permission granted earlier to Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani for taking out a march on July 12 to mark a year of the Una Dalit thrashing incident.

Mevani, however, said the ‘Azadi Kooch’ (Freedom March) would go ahead as planned, from Mehsana town to Dhanera in Banaskantha district.

The permission granted on June 27 for the stir was revoked yesterday by the executive magistrate of Mehsana who cited a fresh advisory issued by the local police about the law and order situation.

“Looking at the present law and order situation, the police has submitted a fresh report with us and claimed that the rally may cause breach of peace and public order. Thus, we hereby cancel the permission granted on June 27 to hold the rally on July 12,” said the written order of the executive magistrate.

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Mevani alleged that the permission had been revoked at the behest of BJP-led Gujarat government.

“The permission was revoked at the last moment as the BJP government realised that the march would create an anti- BJP atmosphere in the state and would dent their prospects in the upcoming Assembly polls. We will not bow down to such tactics and will take out our march,” the Dalit leader said in a statement.

According to the co-convener of Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, Kaushik Parmar, a delegation would meet the Mehsana collector tomorrow on the issue.

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“We intend to meet the collector tomorrow to make a representation from our side. As per some past judgements of the Supreme Court, the applicant must be heard before denying permission. If the authorities remain adamant and refuse to give permission, we will take out the march without it,” said Parmar.

Before the march, Dalit activists are scheduled to address a large gathering in Mehsana town in the morning.

The key agenda of the march is to mount pressure on the Gujarat government to allocate agricultural land to Dalits, so that they can start a new life with dignity, Mevani had said last month.

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In Una, Dalit youths were paraded and flogged for allegedly skinning a dead cow, an incident that caused nation-wide outrage after its video went viral.

Thousands of Dalits, led by Mevani, had then taken out a 10-day march from Ahmedabad to Una to protest atrocities on their community.

The state government has already been on the defensive because of rising anger among the textile traders, who’ve been protesting in hundreds of thousands over their demands on GST. The textile industry has been severely hit because of their continues strike since the beginning of July.

The police last week had to use brutal force to contain the protesting traders in Surat.

(With PTI inputs)

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