Mr Dalit protest attack on WhatsApp after attack in Gujarat over moustache

Mr Dalit protest attack on WhatsApp after attack in Gujarat over moustache. Photo: Twitter

Gandhinagar/Gujarat, October 5: After three successive incidents of Dalit harassment by upper caste men in Gujarat, youths from nearby villages changed their  WhatsApp profile picture to a big mustache with ‘Mr. Dalit’ written below it as a mark of protest.

Many Dalit men posted pictures on social media that showed them twirling their mustaches. A Dalit teenager was attacked by two men on a bike who slit his back with a blade while the teenager was returning home from school. Digant Mehariya, the teenager was the cousin of Piyush Parmar who was also abused and assaulted on September 25 by three people from the upper caste darbar community for sporting a moustache.

VN Solanki, the Deputy Superintendent of Police said that “Digant Mehariya revealed that two unidentified men attacked him using a blade. He received some cuts behind his back in the attack. The process of filing a First Information Report is started in the case.”

Kirit Mehariya, Digant Mehariya’s uncle said that his nephew was attacked because Piyush Parmar lodged a First information Report earlier against the upper caste men. In the First Information report, Piyush Parmar and his cousin Digant Mehariya were going back home after enjoying garba at their village when some people started hurling casteist abuses at them.

Kirit Mehariya said that “Digant Mehariya was present at the location when Piyush Parwar was thrashed. Two unidentified men who were wearing masks attacked Digant Mehariya while he was returning home from an exam on Tuesday. the bikers told Digant  Mehariya that they received Rs 1.5 lakh to attack those who had lodged the First Information Report.”

Before Digant Mehariya could understand what is happening with him, one of the bikers attacked him with a blade and made several cuts on his back. Digant Mehariya said that he received deep wounds in the attack. He is now out of danger.  The similar case happened on September 29 when Krunal Mehariya of the same village alleged in his complaint that he was assaulted by some Rajput men for sporting a moustache.

So, the youths from the nearby villages started a campaign on social networking sites such as  WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook with hashtags such as #RightToMoustache and groups such as ‘Moonch To Rakhenge’.

Ketan Solanki who is an Ahmedabad resident said that “We use social media so that we can tell our community that they should not get suppressed.” Ketan Solanki started the group ‘Moonch Toh Rakhenge.’ Bhavin Anbubhai who is also a part of several groups said that “In my new group, I requested every member of my community to change their display picture on Facebook to one with moustache prominently seen. If any caste thinks only they can sport this symbol of masculinity, then they are wrong.”

Offline protests are also taking place. Hundreds of Dalits led by activists Jignesh Mewani and Subodh Parmar were detained in Gandhinagar on Wednesday. With almost four atrocities in less than two weeks, protesters demanded the resignation of Pradeepsinh Jadeja, MLA of Gujarat Minister of Home. Three incidents from Limbodar over moustache and one from Anand where a Dalit man was lynched for watching garba.

Vasant Mehariya, father of Digant Mehariya insisted that they decided to complain because they did not want to stay silent anymore. Vasan Mehariya said that “Dominant castes neither eat with us nor share a cup of tea for years now. The elders have accepted this way of living but the younger generation do not like if they are forced to change their lifestyle or even looks. I have never shaved my moustache. Why should my son do that?”