After Huge Dalit Rally In Una, Caste Tension Seethes, 19 Injured

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After Huge Dalit Rally In Una, Caste Tension Seethes, 19 Injured

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Yesterday, nearly 10,000 people poured in Una to protest against repeated attacks on Dalits in Gujarat.

Una, Gujarat: 

Highlights

  1. More than 10,000 Dalits held protest in Gujarat's Una to demand rights
  2. Dalits say upper castes attacked them on their way home
  3. Police used batons, tear gas to disperse mob
Balubhai Sarvaiya, whose two sons were among the four young Dalits thrashed in Una after wrongly being accused of killing a cow, needed a group of policemen to escort him to his village last evening.

With caste tension seething in this south-western part of Gujarat, 19 people, including three policemen, were injured in clashes last evening and hospitalized.

Mr Sarvaiya was among nearly 10,000 people who poured yesterday into a school's grounds to protest against repeated attacks on Dalits in Gujarat. Together, they pledged they will no longer remove dead cows or skin them, refusing to subscribe to poorly-paid and grueling occupations thrust upon lower castes.

After the rally ended Dalits, many of them riding motorcycles, were attacked with stones near the village of Samter, home to nearly half of the 30 men arrested after the Una video went viral of Mr Sarvaiya's sons and two of their cousins being tied to a car and beaten repeatedly.

"We had been requesting the police that there are threats and we should be given police protection,  but nothing was done by the cops," said Jignesh Mewani, a lawyer who is among the main organizers of the recent Dalit protests.

Nathabai Makwada managed to escape when the car his friends were traveling in was attacked with hockey sticks and iron rods. "The cops were there but did nothing," he alleged.

26 people have been arrested for yesterday's violence, says the police, adding that they used batons and tear gas to disperse the mob.

At yesterday's rally, Dalit leaders announced that in a month, land that was set aside by the government for lower caste farmers must be handed over to them after years of stalling; if those and other rights are not delivered, they warned, they will begin a large protest.  

At the start of this month, Dalits attacked buses and blocked roads in Ahmedabad to protest against the government's alleged failure to protect them.  The ruling BJP removed Anandiben as Chief Minister a few days later. 

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