Dalit leader & Congress leader Mevani gets six months’ jail for 2016 protest

AHMEDABAD: A metropolitan court on Friday convicted Dalit leader and working president of the Gujarat Congress, Jignesh

Mevani

, and 18 others to six-month imprisonment for staging a demonstration in the city in 2016 with the demand that an under-construction building of Gujarat University be named after Dr BR Ambedkar.

This is the second case in which Mevani has been convicted. In May, a magisterial court in

Mehsana

sentenced him to three months in jail for taking out a rally without police permission in 2017. In December 2017, Mevani contested the assembly election and won from

Vadgam

constituency as an independent candidate. In July, Mevani was appointed working president of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee.

Additional chief metropolitan magistrate P N Goswami sentenced Mevani and the others after holding them guilty of unlawful assembly and abetment for their demonstration on November 15, 2016, at Vijay Crossroads near Gujarat University. The police chargesheet, which listed 12 witnesses, said Mevani and other agitators staged a demonstration on the road and blocked traffic. They were shouting slogans and removed their clothes and it was an act of obscenity. The police chargesheet claimed Mevani and 19 others were agitating against the atrocities committed against the Dalit community.

According to Mevani’s advocate,

Govind Parmar

, the court sentenced the accused to six months imprisonment for unlawful assembly under provisions of Section 143 of the

IPC

, and fined each of them Rs 500. The court has also imposed a fine of Rs 200 on each for other charges.

After recording the conviction and sentencing, the court granted bail to all 19 persons for one month so they can challenge the conviction in an appellate court. Advocate Subodh Parmar, Rakesh Maheriya and Fenil Mevada were among others who were convicted.

Reacting to the conviction, Mevani said, “Gujarat BJP president C R Paatil faced 108 criminal cases, but was convicted in none of them. The state government granted remission to the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case and they were called ‘sanskari’. We have been punished for carrying out protests, which is our fundamental right.”

He further said, “The way Assam police picked me up in a frivolous case and charged me with sexual harassment of a cop while in custody, the government seems desperate to destroy me.”

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