Listen to this article:
New Delhi: An Ahmedabad court has sentenced Gujarat MLA and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani to six months’ of prison over blocking a road during a protest in 2016, LiveLaw has reported.
PTI has reported that the charge was of “rioting and unlawful assembly.”
Mevani, who has not formally joined the Congress so as to not lose his Independent MLA’s post, is the working state president of the Gujarat wing of the party. Gujarat is set to see assembly elections soon. The sentence draws a cloud over whether he will be allowed to contest the polls.
Eighteen others, also convicted with Mevani, are members of the Dalit rights group, Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch. The group had held a protest in 2016 raising the demand that an under-construction building of the Gujarat University be named after Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, reported LiveLaw.
In May this year, a Gujarat court had sentenced Mevani to three months of jail in a 2017 case slapped on him for taking out a rally without permission.
In April this year, Mevani was arrested by the Assam police in back-to-back cases – one over criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the other alleging molestation. The latter was called a ‘false case’ by a court. He got bail in both. Mevani had been openly critical of the Bharatiya Janata Party government, even vowing not to delete the original tweet against Modi for which he was first arrested.
Mevani had shot to fame for having led the agitations against the brutal flogging of Dalits by saffron party’s supporters in Una in the pretext of their cow protection campaign.
He was one of three young leaders, along with Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakore, to have placed a tall challenge before the Bharatiya Janata Party. He is now the only one among them who has not been subsumed into the party.