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Saharanpur violence: Bhim Army gains ground among Dalits

The Bhim Army has emerged as a messiah for Dalits hit by caste violence in western UP’s Saharanpur. With its ear to the ground, the Bhim Amy is spreading its support base in the community.

india Updated: Jul 21, 2017 13:18 IST
S Raju
S Raju
Hindustan Times, Saharanpur

The administration in Saharanpur blames the Bhim Army for the May 9 violence in the district, alleging that it misused social media to mobilise Dalits youths in their campaign against alleged discrimination by government officials.

But Dalits in the villages rocked by caste violence hail the Bhim Army whose leader Chandrashekhar has emerged as their new savior.

During his visit to the violence-hit villages, new district magistrate Pramod Kumar Pandey said that the Bhim Army was on the administration’s radar, though he refused to disclose the possible action against the organisation.

The administration’s allegation that the Bhim Army was responsible for triggering the May 9 violence cuts no ice with the community members who say the administration’s charges are false and baseless.

Speaking the HT, Anita and Sushila of Shabbirpur asked: “How can a person or organisation, who we always find by our side in times of happiness and grief, be anti-social?”

Anita claims that volunteers of the Bhim Army took care of the injured Dalits in hospitals and provided food for families whose houses and shops were allegedly burnt by Thakurs.

Sanjay, a labourer, said Bhim Army cadres were in regular contact with the victims’ families to help them get financial assistance from the state government by processing the required documents.

In neighbouring Chandpur village where Dalits were ambushed on Wednesday evening, Sompal, a Dalit, proudly announced: “We are all part of Bhim Army” and a group of his clansmen, sitting on a cot under a neem tree, nodded in support of his declaration.

In a clear indication of the Bhim Army’s influence among Dalits, three villagers - Sompal, Kashmir and Mamchand said that many elderly persons have directed youngsters to collect donations for the organisation.

All of them believe that the clan must come forward to help those who have dedicated themselves for their welfare.

“It was the Bhim Army volunteers who fought with force for respect and honour of Dalits and now they are facing high handedness of the administration,” Kashmir told HT.

Majority of the Dalits believe that the successful protest rally organized by the Bhim Army at Jantar Mantar in Delhi this week compelled BSP chief Mayawati to come and meet victims of caste violence.

“BSP supported us for our votes but the Bhim Army’s founder Chandrashekher had so far done selfless service for Dalits. They also run schools in Dalit ‘bastis’ for education of our children and their service for the clan has brought them closer to the Dalits in the region,” Kashmir said.

Many in the community believe that the caste violence would cast an adverse impact on Dalit politics of BJP, which apparently managed to garner sizeable votes of the so-called backward castes in its favour in the assembly elections.

First Published: May 25, 2017 18:38 IST