A delegation of Dalit families from the riot-hit Shabbirpur village of Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh has met President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday and sought his immediate intervention in the matter.
The delegation of Dalits, who were hit by recent caste violence that resulted in the death of one Thakur youth, and in which 58 Dalit homes were burnt down by an upper caste mob, was led by CPI(M) Politburo members Brinda Karat and Subhashini Ali.
They also alleged that law and order conditions in Uttar Pradesh were spiralling out of control under the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government.
The Dalit delegation also demanded that they be given compensation for the losses suffered in the caste violence and that the ‘false’ cases against them be withdrawn.
In the 45 minute-long meeting with the President, the team also explained the circumstances of the attack, including the refusal to allow Dalits to install an Ambedkar statue in the local Ravidas temple in April and the pradhan of the village calling in the police when an ‘armed’ Thakur procession went through the Dalit areas playing loud music when a statue of Rana Pratap was to be installed in a neighbouring village in May.
“Some policemen did come but they did not do anything when the Thakurs went on the rampage in the Dalit area. They burnt 58 homes along with various agricultural implements, 25-26 motorcycles, small vans, groceries and various possessions including children’s books and ration cards. Fourteen people have received injuries some very grievous. They are all in the District Hospital,” the memorandum to the President was quoted by The Hindu.
The delegation alleged that the police officials stood by and watched as the Thakurs burnt down homes, agricultural implements, vehicles, groceries, school books and ration cards. They also said that while the family of the Thakur youth who died was given Rs 15 lakh as compensation, the Dalit families received no compensation.
The President was told that the formation of a BJP government in Uttar Pradesh had encouraged vigilante groups, including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's Hindu Yuva Vahini, to attack sections of people with impunity.
“BJP leaders, including elected representatives, have also participated in these attacks,” they said.
“The President gave the delegation a very sympathetic hearing and expressed his anguish,” the CPI(M) said in a statement.
Meanwile, Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale of the Republican Party of India (A) said that he will ask Home Minister Rajnath Singh to issue directions to all states to prevent instances of atrocities against Dalits like those in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh and Rohtak in Haryana.
He also added that he will personally write to all state governments to appoint an additional police force in all districts that see high incidence of atrocities against Dalits.