Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Police arrested 24 rioters on Tuesday after caste-related violence left several injured in Saharanpur. Two police officials were also issued transfer orders after the clashes according to sources.
Superintendent of Police (City) Sanjay Singh and Superintendent of Police (Rural) Rafeeq Ahmed were transferred, according to PTI. Meanwhile, Saharanpur District Magistrate NP Singh has intervened in the unrest, attempting to restore peace by organising a meeting between the Dalit and Thakur leaders of all political parties on Wednesday evening. He told reporters that he hoped “the meeting would help revive their trust in each other”.
At least five policemen, an additional district magistrate and a number of rioters were injured in clashes in Saharanpur on Tuesday. This was the third time in a month that the district saw such violence inter-caste confrontations. Six people were taken into custody on Tuesday. Dalits at the site had claimed that more than 100 people were injured in baton-charging by the police.
There were mixed reports about what triggered the clashes. Some said the clashes began after members of the Dalit community refused to allow a procession to mark Maharanapratap Jayanti. Their refusal was allegedly in response to upper caste Thakurs having stopped Dalits from holding a similar rally on Ambedkar Jayanti.
Other reports claimed that the clashes broke out after the police cut short a maha panchayat called by the Dalit community. The maha panchyat was organised to protest against the police inaction against members of the Thakur community, who were involved in communal clashes last week. The clashes had left one dead and several injured.
On May 5, violence broke out in Saharanpur’s Shabbirpur village when upper caste members had organised a procession to commemorate the birth anniversary of Rajput king Maharana Pratap. The Dalit community had reportedly objected to the loud music played during the event.
In April, the police had registered two FIRs against BJP MP Raghav Lakhanpal Sharma and 300 other unidentified protestors, after clashes broke out during a rally organised by BJP members to mark Ambedkar Jayanti. The march was organised without the necessary permissions.
Processions on Ambedkar Jayanti have been banned in Saharanpur for seven years. The locality where the rally was held has a population of Muslims and Dalits and is a communally sensitive area.