AHMEDABAD: A Dalit youth, Jayesh Solanki was beaten to death by a group of upper castes in Gujarat’s Anand district. Why? Because he dared attend a garba event. He had no right to do so, said his assailants. How dare he sit and watch? So they caught hold of him, banged his head against the wall until he died.

In two separate incidents, two Dalit men were beaten by upper castes in the Gandhinagar district? Why?Because they were sporting moustaches, a right reserved only for the upper castes who assaulted them.

One of them Krunal Maheria, is a law student who said in his complaint to the police, "when I was visiting my friend on Friday night, Vaghela and some others intercepted me and verbally abused me. Vaghela told me that I cannot become a Rajput by just sporting a moustache. When I ignored him, Vaghela beat me up with a stick.” The second is 24 year old Piyush Parma.

But these deaths have not been accompanies by just wails of sorrow but a new found assertion with Dalits demanding action and arrest of the guilty. Young Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani who has fired the hapless community with new zeal has made this part of his ongoing campaign in the state. Supported by a crowd of young men and women from the villages of Gujarat who are now part of his team. Mevani has started campaigning against the BJP.

I will not vote for the BJP, is a pledge that the Dalits recite with him.

Mevani takes care not to tell the crowds who to vote for but has limited his appeal to a “we will not vote for BJP” pledge. Mevani has been relentless in his struggle to bring out the Dalits, Muslims and other marginalised sections to get their rights, and to raise a united voice against injustice. From the first Una march to protest the attack on Dalits by cow vigilantes that saw unprecedented response, Mevani has been working to organise the hapless community and bring them out of the hovels that caste and political discrimination has pushed them into. Those joining him from different parts of India see a decided shift in response with Mevani reminding the Dalits of their rights and backing this with a sharp economic agenda, linked to claiming their land.

This campaign has a new language. It is not defensive, but aggressive. It is laced with the issue of rights and justice. It seeks to unite the Dalits with all other communities suffering from oppression and victimisation. It unites Gujarat with the rest of India with youth leader Kanhaiya Kumar also becoming part of the campaign, as indeed were others join Mevani from different states every now and again, almost as a magnet for the emerging leaders of India.