This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Abhishek Jha. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

In Gujarat, “The Dalits Served A Tight Slap To The BJP And The Sangh”: Jignesh Mevani

More from Abhishek Jha

By Abhishek Jha for Youth Ki Awaaz:

“In the laboratory of Hindutva, such that its echo is heard nationally, the Dalits have served a tight slap to the BJP and the Sangh,” Jignesh Mevani, the young convenor of the Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti, said on the night of August 20 at JNU’s Lohit hostel mess.

Mevani, who was in the capital recently, held three public interactions in Delhi on August 20 and 21- one each at the Press Club of India, at JNU, and at the Gandhi Peace Foundation. He is touring various parts of India before the proposed rail-blockade in Gujarat on September 15. The rail-blockade will take place if a list of demands, including the demand for five acres of land to each Dalit family in Gujarat, is not met by September 15.

Message From Una

Two of Mevani’s three interactions, which YKA covered, began in the same refrain. He informed his audience that earlier protests after each atrocity would fizzle out. Therefore, a group of young Dalits felt that the protests should not be limited to Una. He also spoke about the Thangadh incident in 2012, where three Dalit youth were killed in a police firing. Although the government has announced the formation of an SIT, an ongoing agitation has demanded a CBI probe, since the police have failed to investigate the case so far.

Citing the list of demands that have been placed before the government, failing which the rail-blockade will be brought into effect, he said that the movement in Gujarat wants to be as inclusive as possible and fight for all the oppressed sections of society.

Their list of demands includes the processing of around 1,20,000 applications under the Forest Rights Act of Adivasis, which he claims are pending with the government. He also called for Dalit-Muslim unity and said that the movement will welcome any progressive forces that want to join the movement.

Mevani was also critical of the Prime Minister in both his interactions. “Kahin yahi dum Bharatiya Janata Party ke gale ka fanda na ban jaye, to unhone muh khola (Afraid that this tail might become a noose for the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Prime Minister finally spoke),” he said at the Gandhi Peace Foundation.

A banner behind him carried the slogan formulated in Gujarat: “You keep the cow’s tail. Give us our land”. He also said that if the Prime Minister finds cleaning jobs a spiritual experience, he should enjoy the spiritual experience, and should give land to Dalits instead.

Earlier, he also announced his resignation from the Aam Admi Party on August 20 during his interaction at the Press Club of India. He said that he was thankful that the AAP had not tried to politicise the issue and that he had resigned to silence criticism that he was working in the movement for personal gains.

Q & A

At both JNU and Gandhi Peace Foundation, he was asked several questions and received suggestions from members in the audience. A prominent question that was often repeated to him was about whether it would be correct to take the support of Left activists and movements. “We rightly criticise them too but we should be inclusive of them when they join us,” he said while replying to one such question.

Asked what for urban Dalits could be a demand equivalent to the demand for land by Dalits in Gujarat, he listed a series of demands. He said that the SC/ST sub-plan should be checked from being diverted to general schemes, the contract system in the employment of safai karamcharis should end, the reserved seats that are lying empty should be filled, and the question of minimum wages and employment should be addressed.

He was also asked why in the gathering at Una on August 15 and in the leadership Dalit women were not present in significant proportions. He replied that he was aware of this and that the Samiti was already working towards addressing this. He also said that they have stated in their demand to the government that women and widowed women be given land on a priority basis.

At the Gandhi Peace Foundation interaction, several union leaders, workers, and activists were present. Jagdish Kajla, an activist of the Bhagana Kaand Sangharsh Samiti, formed after the gangrape of four young Dalit girls in 2014, also met Mevani, and gave and sought suggestions from him.

Khushi Ram, General Secretary of the Workers Solidarity Centre (Gurgaon-Bawal) and a former employee of the Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant, said that the 2012 incident at the factory also began with casteist abuses hurled at a worker at the factory. He added that the workers would support the struggle of the Dalits in Gujarat.

Other Speakers On Gujarat Struggle

On August 20 there were also other speakers present with Mevani at JNU. Journalist Anil Chamadia urged the students not to look at incidents of atrocities as isolated incidents but within the framework of the larger design of oppression.

He said that the structure prepared in 2002, which is known as the Gujarat model, has many forms and attacks many groups, which follows the modus operandi of social boycott and burning homes. He said the court’s language and behaviour too in the case of riots and massacres is the same, and that one needs to see the similarities.

SQR Ilyas, Editor of Afkar-e-Milli, also said that the Prime Minister asking for him to be beaten up instead of the Dalits does not behove him. He said that he should have asked for crime to be punished instead of urging people to engage in violence. He then drew similarities with Modi’s statements after the Godhra incident to say that this only signals government sanction for the violence.

Writer and activist Anand Teltumbe said that the BJP does not wish to batter Dalits just like that but instead wants them to work with it for consolidation of Hindu votes. However, he added that they have got a vocabulary to marginalise the politically active by labelling them as Maoists, Naxalites, or anti-national. This is what happened with Rohith Vemula, he pointed out. Talking about the politics of beef, he drew the history of debates on cow-protection starting from the Constituent Assembly.

The 35-year-old activist was headed to Lucknow after Delhi. He told YKA in an interview that he will be touring Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Mumbai too. Another tour in Gujarat before the deadline for the rail-bloackade is also expected.

_

Banner image source: Rajdeep Sardesai/Twitter, Dalit Camera/Facebook
You must be to comment.

More from Abhishek Jha

Similar Posts

By Zen

By Khushbu Gupta

By Amisha Das

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below