|Cops surround Dalits at Jhansi railway station|
By Our Representative
“The yellow coloured soap is a replica of the type used by ordinary Dalits in Gujarat to take their bath. We had planned to deliver it to Adityanath in protest against his government’s despicable behaviour of giving soap and shampoo to Dalits, asking them to come clean before he met them at Kushanagar in UP this May”, said one of the Dalits on board with the soap.
|A cop taking photo of 125 kg soap for Yogi|
“The cops were following us ever since we boarded Sabarmati Express in Ahmedabad on Saturday evening. They first checked each one’s identity card and then took is to boarded us to sit in separate compartments. At Jhansi, we found, there was a big police contingent waiting for us. It forcibly asked to get down from the train along with the soap”, the participant added.
Soon after the Dalits were offloaded, they first sat on dharna, refusing to go with the cops. However, after an hour, they were all taken outside the railway station to a government guest house in Jhansi, where the police officials told them that there was a “threat” of a possible attack on them, hence they were asked to get down from the train.
|Outside Jhansi Railway Police station|
Well-known social activist Martin Macwan, founder of Gujarat’s biggest Dalit rights NGO, Navsarjan Trust, displayed the 125 kg soap in Ahmedabad on June 8, saying, “We want to tell Adityanath that he has insulted Dalits. It is an insult to the memory of Gautam Buddha, too, who 2500 years ago accepted a manual scavenger, Sumit, as his follower, thus becoming the first person in India to reject untouchability.”
“And it is an insult to Kushanagar, where the Buddha acquired Nirvana”, Macwan, who is winner of the prestigious Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2000 for his fight for Dalit rights in Gujarat, had further said.
|Huge police contingent at Jhansi to stop 25 Gujarat Dalits|
Two academics, Pravin Mishra and Suman Kaur, engraved Gautam Buddha’s image on the soap as a reminder to Yogi that he needs to cleanse himself from within instead of asking Dalits to “come clean” to meet him. The soap’s weight equals the 125th birth anniversary of Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar, who fought untouchability all his life.
The soap was being taken to Lucknow under the banner of Dr Ambedkar Vechan Pratibandh Samiti, or Stop Selling Dr Ambedkar Committee, which ran a fortnight-long programme across Gujarat towns in June demonstrating against elected Dalit representatives of BJP and Congress, seeking answer on what they had done for their welfare.