With Saharanpur on the boil, insecurity grips Dalits, Thakurscities Updated: May 30, 2017 18:33 IST
The recent caste clashes in Saharanpur have created a sense of distrust between the members of upper castes and Dalits who have been living together for generations.
Both the communities depend on each other for work and livelihood. The upper caste, generally landlords, engage Dalits in sowing and reaping of crops in their agricultural fields.
Though in the past few decades many Dalits have become landowners and their financial condition has improved, there are many who work as labourers, masons and carpenters.
Tension in Saharanpur has created problem for labourers who used to work either in agricultural fields or at the houses of Thakurs and Rajputs to make their living.
Manoj Singh of Shabeerpur village is a landlord who hires Dalit and Kashyap labourers to sow and reap wheat and sugarcane crops.
“Dalit labourers have stopped working in my field ever since clashes took place on May 5,” he said.
Singh had a Dalit servant who was working for him for the last four years but he has not turned up since May 5.
Thakur Puran Singh of the same village blames outsiders for disturbing peace and harmony in the village. After the clashes on May 5, the villagers formed a 20-member peace committee from both the castes but its meeting could not take place due to unavoidable circumstances.
Dal Singh and his wife Kamla, whose house was set on fire during violence in Shabeerpur village, are living under constant fear.
The couple were injured in the attack and their sons Neetu and Kapil are too scared to go out for work. “How long can we stay inside our house? Officials should provide security to us,” they said.
Though the district officials claimed that they provided food to victims of violence, Dal Singh’s family expressed gratitude to Bheem Army for taking care of their needs.
Sulkesh and Moni also demanded stern action against the perpetrators of violence. Terming the compensation to Dalit families insufficient, they demanded that the administration should increase the amount and provide security to Dalits so that they can go out in search of work.
On Tuesday, Dalits were attacked on the outskirts of Chandpur village in Saharanpur while they were returning from a public meeting of BSP president Mayawati. One person died while eight others were injured in the attack.
After the incident, Dalits in Chandpur are scared and many labourers have stopped going out in search of work.
Vikas, a mason who had been working at the house of a Rajput, said other workers advised him not to go for work for a few days. “I don’t know how long will I have to stay back home,” he said.
“Our village has over a hundred labourers who work in brick kilns. Many others are engaged in other works. They have stopped going out in search of work. Brick kiln owners have advised labourers not to come to work until the situation becomes normal,” he said.
Members of upper castes as well as Dalit community are scared of police.
Man Singh, a relative Shabeerpur gram pradhan Shivkumar, said Dalit and Rajput youths had fled the villages as they fear they might be booked in a fake case.
He claimed that three sons of a Dalit, Inderpal Singh, were booked by the police though they had nothing to do with the clashes. Inderpal sustained injuries in the attack on Dalits after the programme of BSP president Mayawati.
Villagers demanded that the police should stop sending innocent people to jail.