UP: Dalits allege bias by police after clashes, threaten conversion to Islam
A dispute over a drain triggered clashes between Dalit and Thakurs in the village on May 17. FIRs were lodged by both sides and 11 people were arrested. But the Dalits were upset that police didn’t arrest the main trouble-maker, a Thakur man, who they say is “roaming free” and threatening them.india Updated: May 21, 2017 20:36 IST
About 49 Dalit families of a village in western Uttar Pradesh threatened on Sunday to embrace Islam in protest against alleged partisan police action after violent caste clashes that wounded more than 10 people.
These families in Keshopur-Jafri village of Aligarh district immersed idols of Hindu deities in a public pond in a symbolic step to highlight their intention to switch religion should the alleged harassment by upper-caste Thakurs and police continue.
A dispute over a drain triggered clashes between Dalit and Thakurs in the village on May 17. FIRs were lodged by both sides and 11 people were arrested.
But the Dalits were upset that police didn’t arrest the main trouble-maker, a Thakur man, who they say is “roaming free” and threatening them.
The Dalit villagers alleged that police were harassing them after the confrontation with Thakurs.
“Though we lodged complaints with the district administration, officials failed to take action. So we decided to embrace Islam. Today we immersed idols of deities in the village pond in protest,” said Chandra Veer Jatav.
Fellow Dalit Hari Singh Jatav accused Thakurs and police of harassing them together.
“Our children and women are not going out in fear. So we decided to convert. Police have slapped wrong sections of the IPC on Dalits. If this injustice is not stopped, we will embrace Islam on Friday.”
District officials reached the village with a posse of policemen after news of the Dalit threat spread. Sub-divisional magistrate Pankaj Verma assured the villagers that police will take impartial action.
“There was no conversion in the village but there is resentment which will be removed,” he said.
According to senior superintendent of police Rajesh Pande, people are increasingly using the threat to convert as a pressure tactic. “Also, some people are misguiding these Dalits for political advantage.”
He dismissed the allegation of biased police action, saying six Thakurs were among the 11 arrested for the clashes. “As for the IPC sections, if any application is submitted, impartial action will be taken,” the officer said.