The one crore strong Dhanger community in western Uttar Pradesh will relaunch its agitation on Friday against an official order that has deprived them of their scheduled caste status.
For two years, the Dhangers had been trying various peaceful means to get the order withdrawn. But on January 1, they turned violent, ransacking government offices and smashing vehicles, even beating up the station officer of the local police station, until a brutal lathi charge brought them to heel. Around 25 people, including six policemen, were injured.
Two days later the Dhangers again took to the streets, holding up traffic on the Agra-Mathura road.
Dhangers had always been listed among the SCs of UP until January 2007 when the then principal secretary of the state’s social welfare department issued an order saying they were not eligible. The order directed that only ‘Dhaangers’ — a scheduled tribe in Rajasthan and Haryana, who are not found in UP — deserved SC status, not the ‘Dhangers’.
Yet despite the Dhangers repeatedly pointing out this anomaly, the state has not rectified it. Chief minister Mayawati wrote to the prime minister on the matter on January 4, but has yet to receive a reply.
“This is purely a state level matter,” said Devi Das, senior Dhanger leader. “Why does Mayawati need the prime minister’s intervention? Earlier too, Mulayam Singh Yadav, instead of withdrawing the order, wrote to the SC/ST Commission about it.
In fact, these leaders are reluctant to give us back our SC status because they fear the Yadav caste will not like it.”