kyun bhai Nihala, Azaadi tu hai dekhi?
Na bhai Prava, na kha di na vekhi.
Main Jaggu di sunni assi
Una ti ayyi si -
Adapted from Gurramdas 'Alam', 1947
Thousands gathered at the Una Dalit Asmita Rally and Azadi Kooch. The threats of "Gau Rakshaks" – their road blocks and physical assaults – did not deter them. In fact, the threats drew a response of defiance, and more people gathered on the streets.
This struggle against caste oppression is historic. The people’s voice was loud and clear at the march: dead cattle would not be lifted from now on by dalits; nor would there be manual scavenging. The young leader Jignesh Mevani read out a pledge to give up such occupations and demanded alternative employment. He linked the land question with the struggle for liberation from caste oppression, and articulated the demand for five acres of land for Dalits as an alternative source of livelihood.
The All India Kisan Sabha extended support to the call for Rail Roko on the demand for land. Radhika Vemula, mother of Rohit Vemula hoisted the tricolour and called for Struggle for Azaadi from all kinds of oppression. JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar addressed the meeting. Numerous democratic organisations marched in solidarity with Una Dalit Atyachar Ladayee Samiti, including the All India Kisan Sabha, AIAWU, AIDWA, SFI and Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch.
Slogans for Dalit-Muslim Unity, Workers-Peasant- Dalit Unity and to take forward the Struggle of Babasaheb Ambedkar rent the air. A popular slogan was " गाय की दुम तुम रखो, हमें हमारी ज़मीन दो".
This is going to be the shape of the united struggles ahead. "Modi Ji humare swapno me nahi ate, par humari sangharsh unki nind zaroor udate honge iye hume pata hai!"