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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Mob violence memory fresh, Dalits, Muslims unite to make a statement

Bulandshahr Violence:The village — earlier known for people of all castes living in harmony — is now notorious for Bajrang Dal leader Yogesh Raj.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Mar 28, 2019 11:26 IST
S Raju
S Raju
Hindustan Times, Bulandshahr
         

Walking through the alleys in Bulandshahr’s Siyana village, Muslim youth Sarfuddin wishes ‘Jai Bheem’ to his Dalit neighbour Ajay, who returns the courtesy with a big smile.

The new-found customary exchange of greetings between a Muslim and a Dalit is an indicator to the emerging social equations in the region, which was in news recently for the killing of inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and a villager Sumit Choudhary.

The village — earlier known for people of all castes living in harmony — is now notorious for Bajrang Dal leader Yogesh Raj.

Raj has been booked on charges of spearheading a violent mob on December 3 last year after an incident of cow slaughter was reported in neighbouring Mhav village.

While Raj, along with BJP leader Shikhar Agarwal and VHP activist Upendra Raghav and 37 others, are still in jail, Sarfuddin was released from prison after SIT, formed to probe the violence and cases related to cow slaughter, found him innocent.

He was falsely implicated by Yogesh Raj and had to spend 16 days in jail.

“What’s the harm in wishing ‘Jai Bheem’ to my Dalit neighbours,” asks Sarfuddin, while trying to convince others from the community to follow suit.

WHY THE NEED?

Locals insist that prior to the infamous mob violence, the villagers used to live in harmony and the new social equation has emerged in the area only in last three month.

The alliance between the SP and the BSP has only given a push to the equation and victims like Sarfuddin see a ray of hope into it.

“Our unity could help us make a political statement and get back our lost honour, respect and social strength. It is the best way to form a strong social strength to take on dominating Lodh Rajputs in the village,” said a Muslim villager, while squarely blaming the growing influence of the Bajrang Dal under the Yogi Adityanath rule for the mess.

“We always had a good rapport with Dalit. Will definitely greet them with ‘Jai Bheem’,” said Mohd Hussain and Fareed.

For the Lodh Rajputs, who are mostly BJP supporters, Yogesh Raj is their ‘hero.’

“He is a villain for some mainly because he started opposing the misdeeds of Muslims. He is the voice of the village,” said Tejpal, a villager, who belongs to the Lodh Rajput community.

“Polarisation of Dalit and Muslim votes may give a tough challenge to the BJP. And if other castes like Jats also contribute in strengthening the alliance, it may give sleepless nights to BJP election strategists,” said Premjeet, former pradhan of Mahav.

The BSP has declared Yogesh Verma, husband of Meerut mayor Sunita Verma, as its candidate from Bulandshahr, which is a reserve seat.

In 2014, Dr Bhola Singh of the BJP had defeated his nearest rival Pradeep Kr Jatav of BSP by a margin of over 4 lakh votes.

Kamlesh Balmiki of the Samajwadi Party had grabbed third position while RLD’s Anju came fourth.

In 2009, when there was no Modi wave, Kamlesh Balmiki (2,36,257) had defeated BJP’s Ashok Pradhan (1,70,192) by a margin of over 60,000 votes.

BSP candidate Rajkumar Gautam got 1,42,186 votes and had slipped to the third position.

The Lok Sabha constituency has five assembly seats, namely Anupshahar, Siana, Debai, Bulandshahr and Shikarpur.

While BJP had won on all the seats in 2017, BSP came second on four seats. SP came second on Debai seat.

“If Dalits and Muslims vote together, it will definitely brighten the prospects of the alliance candidate. The victory, however, will also depend on which way the Jats swing,” said Talha-Ul-Islam, a political analyst.

The constituency has sizable share of Lodh Rajput votes, which are in BJP’s fold because of their BJP veteran and Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh, who is also a Lodh Rajput.

Members of a few other backward castes also seemed tilted towards the BJP.

A former pradhan, however, claimed that Jats are annoyed with the ruling BJP as majority of persons made accused in Siyana violence are from the community.

First Published: Mar 28, 2019 11:26 IST