Thou­sands protest against at­tack on low-caste Dal­its

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THOU­SANDS of low-caste Dal­its for­merly known as “un­touch­ables” protested in western In­dia against an at­tack on their mem­bers by cow pro­tec­tion vig­i­lantes.

Po­lice sur­rounded the protesters here, the main city in Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s home state of Gu­jarat, to pre­vent any vi­o­lence, as anger among Dal­its mounts over the at­tack.

Protest or­gan­iser Jig­nesh Me­vani said Dalit youths were try­ing to kill them­selves to protest against the at­tacks com­mit­ted against their caste, which lies at the bot­tom of In­dia’s com­plex and en­trenched so­cial hi­er­ar­chy sys­tem.

“Nei­ther the BJP nor Congress will come to our help,” Mr Me­vani said on July 31 of the rul­ing Bharatiya Janata Party and main op­po­si­tion party.

“Only our united strength will help us fight the age-old op­pres­sion,” the Dalit ac­tivist told the crowd which po­lice put at 5,000-strong.

Vi­o­lent protests erupted this month after video footage emerged of an at­tack on four Dalit vil­lagers who were tak­ing a dead cow to be skinned.

Cows are con­sid­ered sa­cred by Hin­dus and killing them is banned in Gu­jarat, but the vil­lagers said the an­i­mal had died of nat­u­ral causes.

Dal­its are com­monly tasked with re­mov­ing the corpses of dead cows from the streets of In­dia, where the an­i­mals of­ten roam freely.

Dalit lead­ers told the rally a 24-year-old man who drank poi­son to protest against the at­tack died of his in­juries in hospi­tal on July 30.

Photo: AFP

Dal­its at the rally on July 31 to protest against at­tacks on their com­mu­nity in Una, Ahmed­abad, western In­dia.

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