Ruling, oppn parties in UP spar over Saharanpur clashes

Lucknow
24 May 2017

Ruling and opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh today trained guns at each other on the caste clashes in Saharanpur, with BSP chief Mayawati holding the government responsible for the violence and a senior minister accusing them of "shedding tears". Mayawati, during her visit to Saharanpur, had accused the ruling party with failing to stop its own brigade from attacking weaker sections. As the caste clashes, seen as the Yogi Adityanath government's first major law and order challenge, kept erupting every now and then over the past two weeks, Mayawati today alleged that casteist forces in the BJP and RSS have been given a free hand to misuse official machinery in order to harm social amity and brotherhood. "After having damaged the communal atmosphere to gain political and electoral victory, the casteist, mischievous and criminal elements in the BJP and RSS are now bent upon unleashing casteist violence," she said in a party release issued after another round of violence claimed a youth's life in Saharanpur yesterday. She also alleged that the administration was hand in glove with BJP and RSS leaders. The BSP supremo alleged that it was because of the neglect of the administration that BJP supporters targetted Dalits and indulged in violence after she left Saharanpur yesterday leading to the death of one person.She said a four-member delegation of her party will meet the chief minister to demand adequate compensation for the victims, stern action against the guilty and free treatment for the injured. "Ever since BJP came to power in the state, law and order and crime control has deteriorated as in other BJP-ruled states and the saffron brigade has got a free hand to carry out communal and casteist activities to harass people...everyone needs to remain vigilant," she said. "The Dalits are demanding their constitutional rights but casteist forces in the BJP and RSS are out to crush them," she said, adding that those who had condemned Dalit icons all their lives are today out to proclaim themselves as the saviours of Dalits and backwards for the sake of votes. However, at a press conference on immunisation campaign, Siddhartnath Singh, who is the state's health minister and also the official spokesperson, took the opportunity to target the Opposition parties by saying it would have been better if those shedding tears over Saharanpur caste clashes had got themselves associated with this campaign. It was a reference to Mayawati who visited the spot yesterday, though he did not take her name. He said the state government has taken the Saharanpur incident very seriously and sent four senior officials with the instructions to return only after normalcy is restored.The chief minister has made an appeal to the people to maintain peace and has also sought cooperation from opposition parties, he said. Adityanath last night termed the incident as sad and unfortunate and offered his condolences to the family of the person killed in fresh violence yesterday. He said the culprits would be identified and strict action taken against them. The state government today announced Rs 15 lakh as compensation to the family of the deceased. 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. Dalits 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. Members of the Bheem Army, a Dalit group, had on May 9 torched a bus and set a number of two-wheelers afire after the administration had turned down their request to hold a mahapanchayat in Gandhi Park to demand compensation for those affected in the May 5 inter-caste clashes. The village is home to around 600 Dalits and over 900 Thakurs. Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government will provide Rs 15 lakh as compensation to the family of a man killed in caste violence in Saharanpur district. A mob had yesterday attacked a group of people returning from a rally of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, killing Ashish (24), who hailed from Sarsawa town, on the spot and injuring four others. The injured will be given Rs 50,000 each as compensation. Fresh violence erupted yesterday in Saharanpur which had been witnessing inter-caste clashes since April. Some unidentified persons set fire to at least 12 houses of Thakurs in Shabbirpur village ahead of the arrival of Mayawati there, SP (City) Prabal Pratap said. After Mayawati wrapped up her visit to the village, a mob attacked a Bolero carrying some BSP supporters, who had come from Sarsawa to attend her event. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Saharanpur Subhash Chandra Dubey said a team of Home Secretary Mani Prasad Mishra, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Aditya Mishra, Inspector General (STF) Amitabh Yash and DG (Security) Vijay Bhushan held separate meetings with civil and police officers of Saharanpur and neighbouring districts. The SSP said 24 people were arrested in connection with yesterday's incidents.(PTI)