Dalits continue to flee Shabbirpur

DGP, senior officials arrive in Saharanpur to take stock of the situation

May 07, 2017 10:35 pm | Updated 10:35 pm IST - Meerut

Eerie calm: Most of the Dalits of Shabbirpur have fled to safer areas after the clash in Saharanpur.

Eerie calm: Most of the Dalits of Shabbirpur have fled to safer areas after the clash in Saharanpur.

Days after a person was killed and over 60 Dalit houses were burnt in caste clashes in Shabbirpur village of Saharanpur, most of the Dalits living in Thakur-dominated villages of the district have fled to “safer areas” fearing further violence.

Mahendar Singh, a Dalit resident of Shabbirpur, told The Hindu that the situation continued to be tense. “Dalits of Shabbirpur are still afraid that violence may erupt any time. After a Thakur youth died during the clash, apparently of suffocation after a fire, the dominant community is very angry. Fear of a violent retaliation have spread to all the Thakur dominated villages in the vicinity of Shabbirpur, forcing the minority Dalits to flee,” he said.

Twin fears

“The fear among Dalits is two-fold because the police is acting with a bias and can implicate us in false cases,” he said. “Already the Dalit village head of Shabbirpur has been arrested on charges of murder.”

Mr. Singh, who was a witness to the clashes on Friday, said that while more than 50 houses were burnt to ashes, allegedly by members of the Thakur community, the police had registered only one FIR from the Dalit side.

So far six FIRs have been filed — four by the upper caste, one by Dalits and one by the police. Seventeen people, including the village head, have been arrested on charges of murder and arson. A massive police force has been deployed in Shabbirpur and other villages nearby to prevent further eruption of violence.

Director-General of Police Salkhan Singh visited Saharanpur along with the Principal Secretary (Home) Devashish Panda and took stock of the law and order situation. They met delegations of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which requested the administration to offer compensation to Dalits whose houses were burnt. They also demanded that delegations of political leaders be allowed to visit the affected villages, a request the DGP turned down.

Saharanpur district has seen two incidents of rioting in the last one month.

Strict action

Mr. Singh said the police would take strict action against rioters. Addressing the media at the Circuit House of Saharanpur, Mr. Panda said law and order was the priority of the Government. Thakur and Dalits living in Shabbirpur and nearby Simlana had clashed after Dalits objected to the loud music played during a procession being taken out by the Thakur community in memory of Maharana Pratap. The procession apparently did not have permission from the local administration. An angry mob of Thakurs living around Shabbirpur attacked the Dalits and burnt over sixty households after a Thakur youth was killed during the clash.

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