Dalit rights activists Jignesh Mevani and Martin Mcwan on Tuesday came down heavily on the Gujarat government for failing to protect the community even as at least five incidents of marriage processions of the Scheduled Castes were attacked in a week.
Mevani, an Independent legislator from Vadgam in North Gujarat, and Mcwan of Navsarjan Trust also did not spare Prime Minister Narendra Modi for waxing eloquent on the Alwar gangrape case in Rajasthan while keeping quiet on attacks on Dalits in his home state.
Mevani accused the state government and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani of being "casteist" and "mute spectators" while attacks continued on Dalits just because the bridegrooms rode horses and the community took out marriage processions.
At least five incidents were reported in the state when marriage processions of Dalits were halted and even attacked despite prior information to the police, the activists told reporters.
The incidents occurred in Khambhisar village of Modasa taluka in Arvalli district, Sitavada village of Prantij taluka in Sabarkantha district, Boriya village of Prantij, Lhor village of Kadi taluka of Mehsana district and Gajipur village of Vadali taluka of Sabarkantha district.
Only in the Mehsana case, five arrests were made.
Mevani asserted: "There is a serious situation in Gujarat.
Dalits cannot take out their marriage processions.
Chief Minister Rupani has not uttered a single word on the incident, " leave alone visiting the areas, Mevani told reporters here.
It should have been Rupani's responsibility to appeal to people to stop spreading hatred against Dalits but his government chose to be a "mute spectator".
He asserted that the government's approach was like "whatever happens to Dalits, we are going to do nothing.
Such is a casteist, callous and indifferent attitude of this government".
They announced a statewide boycott of the BJP government in protest against the incidents and the latter's silence.
Mevani said the boycott programmes would include statewide demonstrations and even approaching the Supreme Court.
The activists demanded that Aravalli district's Deputy Superintendent of Police Falguni Patel should be suspended with immediate effect and an offence lodged against her under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 for allegedly using abusive language during the marriage procession in Aravalli.
There are allegations that she even barged into the homes of Dalits and beat up women.
Mevani and Mcwan also demanded that all the police heads of the districts in which the incidents took place be chargesheeted and elected representatives of the government go to the villages and ensure that the marriage processions were taken out properly.
Asked about allegations that they were giving a political colour to the incidents, Macwan said: "BJP leaders say the issue should not be politicised.
But this is a political question because the Chief Minister has remained silent even when the incidents took place despite the police having been informed well in advance. "