Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani’s supporters and Bharatiya Janata Party workers clashed in Ahmedabad near a statue of BR Ambedkar on the occasion of the social reformer’s birth anniversary on Saturday, ANI reported.
However, Mevani’s Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch called off a proposed blockade of the Samakhyali Highway in Kutch district on Saturday after the state government began procedures to hand over possession of land to Dalits in the district, News18 reported. Bhanubhai Vankar, a retired government bureaucrat, had set himself on fire outside the Patan collector’s office on February 15 to protest the non-allotment of land.
“In the past 48 hours, the Kutch district administration has handed over possession of over 100 acres of land to recipients in Abdasa, Rapar and Mandvi talukas of Kutch district,” Mevani said. “This is a welcome move and I along with the Dalits who have actually received the land, will celebrate Ambedkar Jayanti by digging on these plots of land today.”
However, he said that the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch would begin protests if the government discontinued the transfer of possession of land.
Meanwhile, in the state’s Mehsana district, Dalit activists allegedly “cleansed” Ambedkar’s statue after Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel garlanded it, TV9 Gujarati reported.
In Punjab’s Phagwara town, some individuals allegedly beat up Shiv Sena leader Rajesh Palta at Balmiki Chowk area on Friday night, The Tribune reported. Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Tayab and Senior Superintendent of Police Sandeep Sharma have camped in Phagwara, the daily said. Punjab BJP President Shawait Malik’s visit to Phagwara on Saturday to address party councillors was also cancelled due to the tension.
On April 12, the Ministry of Home Affairs had asked state governments to take precautionary steps to prevent violence or incidents of vandalism ahead of Ambedkar Jayanti.
April 14 marks the 127th birth anniversary of social reformer Bhim Rao Ambedkar. Mumbai Police announced traffic restrictions across the city to prepare for thousands of visitors expected to visit his memorial monument, Chaityabhoomi, in Dadar.
On April 2, Dalit groups across the country had called for a nationwide strike in protest against a Supreme Court order diluting the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act. Three Dalits had died in Gwalior in clashes that broke out during the protest, while four were killed in Bhind.
The district administration had issued a prohibitory order against large gatherings in Bhind and Gwalior cities of Madhya Pradesh on Ambedkar Jayanti.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the nation on the occasion. “Greetings on Ambedkar Jayanti. Pujya Babasaheb gave hope to lakhs of people belonging to the poorest and marginalised sections of society,” Modi posted on Twitter. “We remain indebted to him for his efforts towards the making of our Constitution.”