UP’s Saharanpur tense after Dalit man killed in fresh clashes with Thakurs
Saharanpur has been in the grip of caste violence since April. On May 5, Dalits had objected to a procession of Thakurs to mark the birth anniversary of Rajput king Maharana Pratap, triggering violence.india Updated: May 30, 2017 18:34 IST
One person died of gunshot wounds and at least 20 people were injured in fresh clashes between members of the Thakur community and Dalits at three different places on Tuesday, as violence once again rocked the communally sensitive Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh, officials said.
The state government has sounded an alert, while chief minister Yogi Adityanath reviewed the situation and asked senior officials to rush to the spot and assist police in maintaining law and order.
A senior police officer said one person has died and 20 were injured in clashes in Chandrapur, Shabbirpur and Badagon villages.
The incidents took place when the Dalit villagers were returning home after attending BSP chief Mayawati’s programme in Shabbirpur village in the district.
According to reports, unidentified miscreants, who were hiding in a roadside mango orchard, attacked Dalits with lathis and sharp weapons at two different places near Chandpura village.
In another attack near the same village, a Dalit was shot from close range and he succumbed to injuries during treatment at the district hospital.
Saharanpur district magistrate NP Singh confirmed the death and injuries. He said a massive search operation has been launched to identify and arrest the assailants.
Chief minister Adityanath reviewed the situation at a meeting with principal secretary (home) Arvind Kumar and director general of police Sulkhan Singh.
Adityanath directed the additional director general of police (law and order) Aditya Mishra and inspector genral (Special Task Force) Amitabh Yash to rush to the spot and assist local police in maintaining law and order. Both the officers will camp in Saharanpur till the situation becomes normal.
Additional director general of police (Meerut zone) Anand Kumar rushed to the spot, and senior police officials have been deployed in the area to prevent any escalation.
Earlier on Tuesday, some miscreants tried to vitiate the atmosphere by setting heaps of hay and dung cakes on fire in the Thakur locality in Shabbirpur village during Mayawati’s visit. Fire tenders were called and officials managed to control the situation.
A PTI report quoted superintendent of police (city) Prabal Pratap as saying that some unidentified persons set fire to at least 12 houses of Thakurs in Shabbirpur village ahead of the arrival of Mayawati.
District magistrate NP Singh and senior superintendent of police (SSP) Subhash Chandra Dubey rushed to the scene and pacified members of the Thakur community.
After Mayawati wrapped up her visit to the village, a sword-wielding mob attacked a vehicle of some BSP supporters, who had come from Sarsawa to attend the event.
Police sources said the attackers allegedly fired their guns and wielded batons, killing Ashish (24) on the spot.
As word of the incident spread, Dalits allegedly indulged in rioting and stone-pelting at some places, forcing closure of markets.
Mayawati during her visit to the village held the BJP-led UP government responsible for the violence and alleged that the ruling party had failed to stop its own brigade from attacking weaker sections.
Saharanpur has been in the grip of caste violence since April.
On May 5, a Dalit group had objected to a procession of Thakurs in Shabbirpur to mark the birth anniversary of Rajput king Maharana Pratap, triggering violence, in which one person was killed and over 15 were injured.
Dalit victims of the clashes say upper caste Thakurs had earlier prevented them from installing a statue of BR Ambedkar on the premises of the Ravidas temple in the village.
Meanwhile, Mayawati met some of the victims of the clashes on Tueday evening and blamed the BJP government in the state for such incidents.
(With agency inputs)