Not allowed to observe Valmiki Jayanti, Dalit inmates protest in Tihar

Tihar jail, Dalits, Bhim Army

Scores of Dalit men lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail sat on a hunger strike on Sunday (October 13) for being allegedly denied permission to observe Maharishi Valmiki Jayanti. However, the jail authorities said that they were granted the required permission.

A report by news agency PTI said that the authorities at Tihar Jail had allegedly denied permission to its Dalit inmates to observe Maharishi Valmiki Jayanti on Sunday.

As a result, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and several other Dalit inmates lodged in the jail resorted to a hunger strike inside the prison.

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However, the jail authorities have denied such charges, saying that the Dalit inmates had also performed hawan and distributed sweets in view of Valmiki Jayanti.

Bhim Army spokesperson Kush Ambedkarwadi said that scores of Dalit inmates in the Tihar Jail had on Saturday (October 12) demanded the jail authorities to provide them a poster of Maharishi Valmiki to offer tributes on the occasion.

“The jail authorities didn’t give us a poster. Hundreds of Dalit men lodged along with Chandrashekhar Azad have proceeded on a hunger strike against this,” he alleged, adding that the denial of permission was a violation of their fundamental rights.

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“What’s more disappointing is that Delhi Jail Minister Satyendar Jain and Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam, who has been vocal on Dalit issues, has been keeping mum,” Kush claimed.

Meanwhile, Bhim Army, a Dalit group, has threatened to gherao Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence on Monday (October 14) over the issue.

A tweet from Azad’s Twitter handle read, “The Bhim Army will gherao the resident of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal if he failed to make arrangements to observe Valmiki Jayanti in the Tihar Jail.”

Meanwhile on Sunday, Kejriwal announced that the Delhi government will meet the entire expenditure on education of Valmiki community children after class 12, while accusing previous governments of keeping the Valmiki community bereft of developmental opportunities.

(With inputs from agencies)