Politics

Dalit Leader Jignesh Mevani Arrested Ahead of Modi Visit

Jignesh Mevani and Kanhaiya Kumar at a rally in Una. Credit: PTI

Jignesh Mevani and Kanhaiya Kumar at a rally in Una. Credit: PTI

Ahmedabad police on Friday arrested Jignesh Mewani, the Dalit leader who spearheaded the Una protests in Gujarat. He is said to have been placed under preventative detention ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Gujarat. Incidentally, Modi landed soon after after Mewani was whisked away from the airport by about 25 policemen who were waiting for him when he arrived from Delhi.

Deepan Bhadran, the deputy commissioner of police at the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) told the Indian Express that Mevani “was detained following a specific input. He is being questioned and will be released soon.” But did not reveal the reason for arresting Mevani.

However, Subodh Parmar, Mevani’s aide and a member of Dalit Adhikar Manch told the Hindustan Times, “Mevani was coming from Delhi after addressing a public meeting at Jantar Mantar. Fearing that he might create some problem at felicitation event organised for Modi near airport, he was detained.”

While in Delhi, Mewani delivered a speech at Jantar Mantar, announcing plans for a rail roko in Gujarat on October 1 to demand written confirmation from the Gujarat government that it will allocate land for Dalit families across the state, in accordance with the Agricultural Land Ceiling Act, the Indian Express reported. The report also mentioned that Mevani announced the “rail roko andolan” last week during a speech in Ahmedabad.

A crowd of around 100 Dalits gathered around the DCB’s headquarters in Ahmedabad, demanding Mevani’s release.

The Gujarat police also arrested Reshma Patel, leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), Scroll reported. Additionally, the Indian Express estimated that around 400 PAAS members have also been detained ahead of Modi’s visit. Earlier, they threatened to stage a demonstration during Modi’s planned event in Navsari, after they were denied the chance to meet with him and discuss their demands.

According to Scroll,  J.K. Bhatt, the joint commissioner of police of the city crime branch denied having any information on the detainees, “I am not aware of names and number of people detained.”