Jignesh Mevani enters temple in Kutch with Dalits

Gandhinagar: As part of the agitation against atrocities on Dalit community in Gujarat, the lone independent legislator Jignesh Mevani, who recently joined the Congress, entered a temple at Varnu village on Monday with other Dalit members in Rapar taluka in Kutch as a mark of protest.

On receiving a complaint from the Dalit residents of the Varnu village, the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch of which Jignesh Mevani is the national convener, reached the temple with his team. Mevani in his presence ensured the entry of people from the Dalit community inside the temple.

“The temple has two premises and Dalits are allowed access to only the primary part and the inner sanctum sanctorum is reserved only for people from the upper caste,” Mevani told the IANS.

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“Now my question is — why every citizen is not allowed an entry inside and only the upper caste? asked Mevani.

“In the authority’s presence, we made an entry into ‘Garbha Gruh’ and carried out rituals. But it was a very cold welcome from the temple authorities (Pujari-Nahant), as cold a welcome I would receive at the BJP headquarters Kamalam,” Mevani laughed.

After the entry, Mevani held a meeting with people from other communities residing in the Varnu village. Mevani told them, “We are not here to showcase our strength that we can enter the temple, but we are here to move along with you with folded hands. Let’s consider each other as our own and have a feeling of brotherhood for our fellow villagers.”

The Vadgam constituency legislator Jignesh Mevani on Saturday had given a call for “Andolan” (agitation) against atrocities and practice of untouchability against Dalits in Gujarat. This was after six members of a Dalit family at Ner village in Kutch were assaulted allegedly by a group of 20 persons on October 26.

Mevani said, “Until there is an attack or a murder (of Dalits), the police don’t act. The BJP plays politics in the name of temples across the country, my question to them is how many Ram Mandirs and temples in Gujarat do not allow entry to Dalits.”

“What are you doing about this issue? He asked the ruling BJP party which has been in power in Gujarat for around two and a half decades.

“Untouchability is a blot on our society and we as a society, as a nation are not ashamed of this. I have challenged the BJP in the House thrice to take up a single village out of the over eighteen thousand villages and make it untouchability free, which they have not accepted. They want it to continue,” added Mevani.

Mevani informed that alone in Kutch district, in Rapar and Bhachau talukas, nearly 1200-1500 acres, that is nearly 3,000 bighas of land of scheduled castes and Dalit community were illegally occupied by upper castes.

“We have already identified 10,000 acre Dalit land in Gujarat, which has been encroached upon. In the coming days, we will continue the agitation to free that along with raising voice for many such complaints we have received just like that of Ner and Varnu villages,” added Mevani.

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