Gujarat Dalit agitation leader Jignesh Mevani on Sunday said that Dalits will burn copies of Manu Smriti, the ancient legal text codifying the caste system, outside the Jaipur bench of Rajasthan High Court which has an idol of Manu on its premises.
“We have an ultra-liberal Constitution and protecting it is the duty of the courts. But having an idol of Manu on the premises of a High Court speaks volumes about our judiciary as the book stands for patriarchy and casteism,” Mevani toldThe Indian Express.
“Hence, we will burn copies of the text outside the gates of Jaipur bench of Rajasthan High Court,” said Mevani, who is also the convener of Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti. The Samiti was created following the public flogging of Dalits in Gujarat’s Una for allegedly skinning a dead cow.
“Our slogan will be ‘Manu Smriti jalayenge, poora desh hilayenge’ (will burn Manu Smriti, and shake the nation). It’ll take place on December 6, the death anniversary of Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar,” Mevani said.
“It’ll be a milestone in the history of the nation. We will campaign all over the country for it and lakhs of Dalits from across the nation will gather in Jaipur for the event,” he said.
Before the protest, Mevani said that they will also get in touch with organisations with similar ideologies in Rajasthan, and those which are working for empowerment of the marginalised classes and communities.
The idol was reportedly set up in 1989 by Rajasthan Judicial Officers Association. However, following objections, a Full Court Resolution directed that it be relocated. But this was, in turn, challenged by Jaipur-based Acharya Dharmendra.
On August 13 last year, the matter was again taken up in the High Court after a period of 25 years. A bench of Chief Justice Sunil Ambwani, Ajit Singh and V S Siradhana issued notices to the Centre and state government, impleading them as respondents to the petition.
“The matter is still pending before the High Court but it is not really an issue,” said Ram Manohar Sharma, President, High Court Bar Association.