Yogi government at 100 days: Caste, politics and clashes in western Uttar Pradesh | lucknow | Hindustan Times
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Yogi government at 100 days: Caste, politics and clashes in western Uttar Pradesh

Yogi government’s installation in the state kindled hopes for better law and order. Initially, the situation improved a bit but incidents of caste clashes in Saharanpur, Shamli and Meerut gave ammo to the opposition against the state government.

lucknow Updated: Jun 27, 2017 18:49 IST
S Raju
Saharanpur violence.
Saharanpur violence.(HT File Photo)

Caste clashes in Saharanpur and other districts of western UP in the past few months have jolted people’s hope for improvement in law and order situation in the region.

Yogi government’s installation in the state kindled hopes for better law and order. Initially, the situation improved a bit but incidents of caste clashes in Saharanpur, Shamli and Meerut gave ammo to the opposition against the state government.

Caste cauldron at a glance
  • The first conflict occurred on April 18 when a BJP rally held to mark Dalit icon BR Ambedkar’s birth anniversary sparked angry protests from locals in Sarak Doodhli village of Saharanpur. The dispute turned violent and injured 15 people, before the police stepped in and stopped the procession for being organised without permission.
  • SA few days later on May 5, Dalits objected to a procession taken out by Thakurs and Rajputs in Shabbirpur village to commemorate 16th century king Maharana Pratap. The ensuing clashes killed one Thakur youth. Hours later, around 50 Dalit houses were torched.
  • A new organisation of dalits – the ‘Bhim Army’ d called for a mahapanchayat on May 9.
  • When officials banned the mahapanchayat, angry supporters of Bhim Army torched a police post and over 20 vehicles.
  • The situation again became volatile after her departure when unidentified assailants attacked dalitsThis led to the death of one dalit youth and injuries to at least six people.
  • Caste clashes in Gejha village of Meerut and Khodsama village in Shamli last week indicated growing trust deficit among people.
  • Dalits and Jats clashed in Gejha village, accusing each other of passing abusive comments. In Khodsama village of Shamli, a Jat pelted the procession of ‘Ghudchadi’ of a Kashyap youth with stones, which triggered a clash between both castes.

The first conflict occurred on April 18 when a BJP rally held to mark Dalit icon BR Ambedkar’s birth anniversary sparked angry protests from locals in Sarak Doodhli village of Saharanpur. The dispute turned violent and injured 15 people, before the police stepped in and stopped the procession for being organised without permission.

A few days later on May 5, Dalits objected to a procession taken out by Thakurs and Rajputs in Shabbirpur village to commemorate 16th century king Maharana Pratap. The ensuing clashes killed one Thakur youth. Hours later, around 50 Dalit houses were torched.

Dispute over a procession turned violent in Saharanpur. (HT File Photo)

A new organisation of dalits – the ‘Bhim Army’ emerged as saviours of dalits and called for a maha-panchayat on May 9 against the alleged excesses of the upper caste and cops against dalits, which aggravated the crisis.

When officials banned the mahapanchayat, angry supporters of Bhim Army torched a police post and over 20 vehicles. Amid the allegations and counter-allegations BSP chief Mayawati held a meeting in violence-hit Shabbirpur on May 23 and urged people to maintain peace after meeting the families of victims.

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However, the situation again became volatile after her departure when unidentified assailants attacked dalits who were returning home after attending Mayawati’s meeting. This led to the death of one dalit youth and injuries to at least six people.

Social activists and officials made efforts to restore trust among people of different castes, but caste clashes in Gejha village of Meerut and Khodsama village in Shamli last week indicated growing trust deficit among people.

Dalits and Jats clashed in Gejha village, accusing each other of passing abusive comments. In Khodsama village of Shamli, a member of Jat community pelted the procession of ‘Ghudchadi’ of a Kashyap youth with stones, which triggered a clash between the members of both castes.

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While leaders of the ruling BJP blamed rival parties for the incidents, political analysts held ‘politicisation of castes’ responsible for the growing caste clashes in the region.

A senior journalist opined that the morale of upper castes has gone up during BJP regime in the state, as majority of them believe that Maya government supported dalits and thereafter Muslims and Yadavs had their say in Akhilesh government. Now, after a gap of 10 years people of upper castes believe that their voices would be heard in the present government.

Dr Alok Kumar, associate professor of sociology in CCS University, said: “Growing incidence of cast clashes is an outcome of politicisation of castes because it has developed keen desire in castes to have their share in governance and any obstacles in their way leads to clashes.”

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However, BJP leader Jagat Singh held rival parties responsible for the clashes. “Failing to find an issue against the Yogi government, they are adopting unethical measures to malign the image of the government.”

Muqarram Ali Khan, a progressive farmer, believes that it could have been a calculated move of political parties to develop cracks in ‘united dalits’ who largely support Mayawati in UP. Dividing them in factions could help big political parties to attract them in their fold and the rise of Bhim Army has given rise to these speculations.

Congress leader Imran Masood has already extended his support to jailed Bhim Army leader Chandrashekher and on other hand BJP also leaving no stone unturned to woo dalits into its fold.