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Dalits Threaten to block Vibrant Gujarat Summit over land demand

Ahmedabad: Dalits in Gujarat have threatened to block roads leading to the venue for the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017 in Gandhinagar if members of the community are not allotted land by the government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the summit, arguably the biggest congregation of business leaders in the country.

Speaking to News18, Jignesh Mevani, convener of the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, said, “There are 500 dalits across Gujarat who have been allotted land by the government but it is only on paper.”

“They have still not been given possession of this land. If Adani, Ambani, Essar and other corporate entities get land as and when sought by them, why aren’t dalits, adivasis and OBCs getting land?” he said.

He further added, “Dalits will block the route of the PM when he visits Gujarat to attend the Vibrant Gujarat Summit later this month. We have made several representations to the government, but it does not appear to be serious enough in allotting land to the deprived.”

The Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit kicks off in Gandhinagar from January 10.

The demand of land to be allotted to dalits picked up momentum after the public flogging of dalit youth by self styled `gau rakshaks’ at Mota Samdhiyala village near Una in Gir-Somnath district last year. The incident galvanised the dalit community into protests and brought activists like Jignesh Mevani into the limelight overnight.

However, since then, the focus has shifted to the issue of land allotment for members of the community and a sustained campaign is being carried out to ensure that members of the dalit community who are already allotted land, get actual possession of the land.

The Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch has identified as many as 500 dalit recipients of land in Gujarat who have been allotted land, but only on paper. Besides, the organisation is demanding that each dalit family be allotted at least five acres of land.

Dalits have found the `rasta roko’ method of agitation to be the most effective to press for their demands. In the past three months alone, members of the dalit community have resorted to blocking traffic at several places in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and other cities.