This is the second wave of caste violence in Shabeerpur and adjacent areas after May 5 clashes between Dalits and Thakurs.
Police tightened security across western Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur region on Wednesday amid mounting tensions following the death of a Dalit youth a day ago in caste clashes.
Police said unidentified people ambushed a group of Dalits returning from a rally by Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Tuesday evening, killing one man and injuring eight.
This was the second wave of caste violence in Shabeerpur and adjacent areas after May 5 clashes between Dalits and Thakurs where scores of houses of scheduled caste families were torched and one man killed.
The attacks began over a Thakur-led procession to commemorate Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap. Since then, the caste violence has grabbed headlines and is being seen as the first law-and-order challenge for chief minister Yogi Adityanath since the BJP swept to power in March.
Saharanpur district has 26% Dalit population spread across villages and 10% Thakurs. But in Shabbirpur village, the total population of the village is 4,000 that includes 2,500 Thakurs and 600 Dalits and this lop-sided ratio worries the Dalits.
Police have now launched a massive search operation and arrested more than 20 suspects on charges of inciting violence. Senior state government officials are camping in the area.
Saharanpur senior superintendent of police Subhash Chandra Dubey told HT that raids were being conducted to arrest the remaining suspects
District magistrate N P Singh said the state government gave a compensation of Rs 15 lakhs to the deceased and Rs 50,000 to the other injured.
The violence has worsened the situation in the caste and communally sensitive region that has seen several clashes in the past. Dalits protested against the killing, damaging some shops in adjoining vuillages.
Days after the May 5 killing, angry supporters of Dalit group Bhim Army torched a police post and several vehicles in Saharanpur with chaos prevailing for hours.
BSP’s Saharanpur zonal in-charge Kuldeep Baliyan told HT a meeting of party leaders was called and a delegation would meet government officials to demand immediate arresting of all suspects and provide adequate security to Dalits.
On Tuesday, Mayawati met the victims of caste clashes and held BJP’s government responsible for growing violence in the state. She, however, advised Dalits not to take law and order in their hands and called upon people of all castes to work for harmony.