Witch Hunt: Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani sentenced to 6 months imprisonment - IAMC

Witch Hunt: Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani sentenced to 6 months imprisonment

Prominent Dalit lawmaker and activist Jignesh Mevani was sentenced to 6 months in prison over his connection with a protest at Gujarat University in 2016. His sentencing comes just months before the Legislative Assembly elections in the Gujarat state.

Mevani was charged with “rioting” for staging a road blockade to demand that a building on Gujarat University’s campus be renamed after BR Ambedkar, a Dalit freedom fighter, contemporary of Gandhi, and the father of the Indian constitution.

Mevani has hit out against his sentence with a sarcastic tweet, saying, “Punish the agitators and release the rapists,” referring to the recent release of 11 Hindu supremacists convicted of raping a Muslim woman, Bilkis Bano.

On Instagram, he posted, “Governments will release the rapists of Bilkis Bano but will not spare protesters even if their demands are just.”

While India’s justice system often gives Hindu extremist rioters who engage in violence and arson light punishments, Dalits, Muslims, and Christians face brutal crackdowns for exercising their right to dissent.

Family of 8-year-old Muslim boy arrested for ‘rioting’ say their son was tortured

The family of an 8-year-old Muslim boy, Rizwan Qureshi, has slammed the police for arresting their minor son over baseless rioting charges and beating him while in prison in Bihar state. Qureshi was kept in prison for seven days, which Qureshi’s mother has described as “hell.”

“My Rizwan was kept all alone in a dark cell for two days at the Barharia police station and then sent to the court with his grandfather. They both were tied down in a rope, even had ropes tied to their stomach. Just imagine how confused and scared my boy must have been,” she said.

Photo Courtesy: Meer Faisal

She added that when she attempted to take Qureshi some food, the police refused to let her see him or deliver the food.

“He was sent to the Juvenile home. I met him there for barely 5-10 minutes, he was crying so much. He was wailing like an infant when we brought him back,” she reported.

She also said that police “beat [Rizwan] continuously and kept asking him his age. When he told them that he was eight, they refused to believe him and claimed he was 13-year-old.”

Qureshi and his 70-year-old grandfather, Mohammad Yasin, were arrested after a Hindu supremacist mob led a violent rally through a Muslim-majority neighborhood in Bihar’s Siwan district. Rather than punishing Hindu supremacists for pelting stones and sparking violence, Muslims were arrested and jailed on trumped-up charges.

Fact-finding team exposes forest officials for murdering tribal man

A fact-finding team investigating the killing of a tribal man in Madhya Pradesh state over alleged timber smuggling has found that the state government is trying to protect the accused officials by labelling the victim and other tribals as “habitual offenders.”

On August 9, also known as International Tribal Day, 35-year-old tribal Chain Singh was shot dead after forest officials opened fire on him and other tribals who were returning to their village.

“Forest cops opened fire on unarmed tribals, killing one while five others were injured,” the team stated in its 14-page report. “Three-four days after the incident, the police ‘secretly’ lodged a first information report against the tribals on the complaint of the forest officials.”

“The forest department claimed that they [the tribals] were ‘habitual offenders’ who were smuggling timber and attacked cops with stones after getting caught… Yet, no forest official got injured in [the alleged] stone pelting or with any attack, while the four tribals got heavily wounded and one was shot dead.”

India’s marginalized indigenous communities have reported facing police brutality and other forms of violence in the name of protecting logging companies.