Politics over Jawabdehi attacks

Jaipur, Jan 17 : The attacks on the Jawabdehi Yatra has taken on a political tenor with the Congress flaying the attacks and BJP saying it has nothing to do with the incident that took place in Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s constituency yesterday.

The BJP has rubbished social activist Aruna Roy’s claims that her Jawabdehi (accountability) Yatra was attacked by BJP MLA and his goondas yesterday.
On Saturday, activists of the Jawabdehi Yatra were attacked by group of 40 to 50 men in Aklera located in Raje’s constituency, Jhalarapatan (Jhalawar) injuring six of them. The windows of the jeeps were smashed, cameras broken and activists hit and roughed up with lathis on their leg, head and backs. Six of them injured grievously.

The Jawabdehi yatra, which began from Jaipur on Dec 2 from Jaipur has been organized by Majdoor kissan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) and 90 other social organisations like Aastha Sansthan from Udaipur, Sankalp Sansthan from Baran , Barefoot college, Tilonia. Social activists, labours, tribals, dalits, painters, folk singers, drama artists and students from across the state are part of this 100-day yatra. The yatra aims to bring in accountability and fix responsibility of the government in administration.
The yatra would look and study a plethora of issues concerning the public like Right to Education, Food Security, Right to health, labourers rights, women’s rights, Right to Information, labour and employment rights, pension, communal harmony, tribal’ rights, Dalit’s rights, rights related to water, forest and land right and local governance. The yatra will cover more than 100 blocks in all 33 districts of the state.

Aruna Roy had said she thought it was a planned conspiracy to attack their rally as it demanded accountability on various counts from the government. A FIR naming the present MLA was lodged. No arrests have been made yet.

The BJP has rubbished the actvists’ claims, saying the BJP MLA (Manohar Thana, Aklera) Kunwar Meena had put out his statement, denying his involvement in the attack. BJP state president Ashok Parnami said: “Meena had actually gone to help the activists, who were attacked by some other miscreants. He has put out his statement and clarified his intentions and there is no basis to these allegations.”

BJP MLA Kunwar Meena also said : “I went to help the rally and the activists as my home is very near to where the rally was taking place. I saw them being attacked by some miscreants and I helped to disperse them. My name in the FIR has been included at the behest of the previous Congress MLA Kailash Meena.” Kunwar Meena has not been questioned by the police yet, neither has he got any calls from BJP leaders.

Meanwhile, the Congress has criticized the attacks. Former Congress Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has condemned the attacks and tweeted that such attacks are not possible without political patronage and that the miscreants should be given strict punishment.

The activists have sought an audience with the Raje. Activists have put out a video showing the footage of the attack where the MLA is shown with a lathi, charging at some people. Kavita Srivastava of the PUCL said that the MLA has been denying his involvement in the incident, however, videos have emerged which clearly show the MLA Kunwar Meena wielding a stick and attacking the rallyists and their vehicles.

Nikhil Dey of the Soochana Evam Rozgar Abhiyan added that that the yatra team has shared this footage with the investigating authorities. He said that the SP has assured the delegation that authorities have their own material (pictures and videos) and the investigation is already undergoing based on this material.

Kunwar Meena said : “I can be seen in the video running after some people with a lathi but it is only after attackers that I am running as I was asked to help by the police. And I agreed to mediate.”
The activists also allege that Kunwar Meena has a notorious past and in 2005 had slapped the Sub divisional magistrate Ram Chand Meena at gunpoint. He is also said to have been chargesheeted in 12 or more cases.

Meena, however, said: “People can stoop to any level in politics.”

A delegation from the Jawabdehi Yatra including Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Kavita Srivastava, Shankar Singh and others met the District Magistrate Vishnu Charan Malik and the District Superintendent of Police Rajendra Singh today. The delegation also submitted a letter to the SP demanding changing the investigation from the Aklera thana to the SP office. They also demanded that appropriate sections be added in the FIR against the culprits. The FIR has been lodged under Sections 147, 323, 427, 379 and 149 of IPC which are complaints for rioting, voluntarily causing hurt, mischief causing damage and unlawful assembly guilty of of offence. The punishment can go up to two to three years and fine under these sections.

Aruna Roy said added that this incident is an opportunity for the political establishment and the administration to show that they take issues of accountability seriously.

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