Once again, Gujarat police detains Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani ahead of Narendra Modi’s visit
He had threatened to disrupt the prime minister’s visit if the government did not meet the minimum wage demands of the state’s anganwadi workers.
Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani was detained by the Ahmedabad Police’s Special Operations Group on Wednesday, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Gujarat, his lawyer Shamshad Pathan told Scroll.in. This is the second time this year that Mevani was placed under “preventive detention” before Modi’s visit.
His press conference on March 3 is believed to have been the trigger for his detention. “I had announced that we will disrupt Modi’s visit if the government does not meet the minimum wage demands of Gujarat’s anganwadi workers and accredited social health activists who haven been on a strike for more than 20 days,” Mevani told Scroll.in from the police station.
The Dalit leader said the Gujarat police were using “preventive detention” as a “routine strategy” every time Modi visited the state. “They will hopefully let me out in an hour or two after Modi has flown out,” he said. Modi flew to Gandhinagar on Wednesday to speak on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
In January, the state police had detained Mevani before Modi’s visit to Gujarat. Deputy Commissioner of Police Deepan Bhadran had said the Dalit leader was placed under preventive detention “based on a specific input”. Earlier on Wednesday, Mevani had tweeted saying, “Modi, against whom there is evidence of spying on a woman, will be delivering a lecture on International Women’s Day.”
For the past few weeks, the 37-year-old and his Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch have been supporting the cause of more than one lakh women working as anganwadi workers, who have not received minimum wages for more than two decades. “On one hand, they celebrate Vibrant Gujarat, and on the other, they deny these women their basic rights,” he said.
Earlier in the day, former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union Vice President Shehla Rashid had said Mevani had been arrested for announcing his intention to protest for the workers’s rights.