UNA: Thousands of Dalits today took a pledge not to remove cow carcasses and to launch a rail roko stir if five acres of land for each family is not granted by Gujarat government within a month even as tension broke out after an attack in which eight of them were injured.
As the 10-day long 350-km foot march from Ahmedabad culminated at the epicentre of Dalit protests here, some dalits returning after the conclusion of the rally that coincided with the 70th Independence Day were attacked by suspected upper caste people in Samter village in Una in Gir Somnath district.
Eight dalits were injured and a complaint was lodged at Una(rural) police station, police said, adding top officials were camping in the area.
Muslim community members came out in large numbers to support the Dalit community in their campaign. Slogans like "Dalits-Muslims bhai bhai" were heard at the gathering where Prime Minister Narendra Modi also came under fire.
The tricolor was jointly unfurled by Radhika Vemula, mother of dalit scholar Rohith Vemula who had committed suicide in Hyderabad and Balu Sarvaiya, father of one of the victims of Una dalit flogging incident, in the presence of JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar.
As many as seven members of Dalit community from Mota Samadhiyala village in Una taluk in Gir Somnath district were on July 11 brutally assaulted by some self-styled cow vigilantes for skinning a dead cow, sparking outrage.
At the rally, Dalit leaders sought freedom from atrocities and discrimination, amid chants of "Jai Bhim".
The march under the aegis of Una Dalit Atachiyar Ladat Samiti (UDALS) started on August 6 from Ahmedabad, 350 km from here.
"You take cow's tail, give us land," Jignesh Mavani, a lawyer-turned politician who established the UDALS and led the march, told the huge gathering.
He also made those who were present there to take a pledge not to be in the business of skinning of cows and to abandon the practice of cleaning the underground drains by going down manholes.
"We have presented our demand before the state government. If you do not accept our demand of giving five acres land to each dalit family in next one month, we will launch a rail roko agitation," Mevani said.
Targeting Modi, Mevani said, "The sheer scale of protests had forced him to speak out on the issue. Modi did not speak a word when three youths were killed in police firing in Thangadh town in 2012, another incident of Dalit atrocity."
Kanhaiya said the hype of Gujarat Model of development has been punctured by dalits of the state.
"We want freedom from castesim. We will not tolerate any more atrocities on dalits anywhere in the country. Everybody has to come together to fight against such atrocities."
Radhika Vemula in her address said, "I have not got justice for my son. He had to commit suicide just because he was dalit.
"But it is good to see that Dalit movement in Gujarat has forced the chief minister Anandiben Patel to resign. I have come here so that no other Dalit children face what my son had to suffer."