Dalits flee Muzaffarnagar village

Meerut: Most Dalit residents of Bhupkheri village in Muzaffarnagar have fled alleging threats by the Thakur community, two days after clashes between the two communities left 18 people seriously injured. This comes four months after Shabbirpur village in nearby Saharanpur witnessed clashes between Dalits and Thakurs.

The Saharanpur Police arrested four out of the 18 members of the Thakur community named in the police FIR. They have been charged with rioting and damaging a statue of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar.

Thakur Man Singh, the village head, blamed the Dalits for the clash. He demanded that the police must work objectively and not arrest any innocent person.

The police has also filed a case against seven Dalits for rioting and arrested one of them.

According to Muzaffarnagar-Rural Superintendent of Police (SP) Ajey Sehdev, a 17-year-old Dalit girl was harassed by people from the other community while Dalits were celebrating the birth anniversary of Guru Shamandas at the Sant Ravidas ashram. When Dalits protested against the alleged molestation of the girl, it led to a fight and soon snowballed into a full-fledged violent confrontation between Thakurs and Dalits.

Villagers escape

According to Sompal, a Dalit resident of the village and also the complainant in the case, most of the Dalits fled from the village after receiving threats from the Thakur community. “Some of the Dalits were told their life will be under threat if they continued to live in the village. The Dalit settlement remains abandoned as most of the people have fled. Some of us are here but we are not going to the farms to work,” said Rakesh, a Dalit living in Bhupkheri. He alleged that “the police are also was taking the side of the Thakur community”.

Dharmdas Maharaj, caretaker at the Sant Ravidas ashram, said the alleged victim of sexual assault and her family members had been dropped outside the village despite police pressure on them to remain in the village.

Senior administrative and police officials like Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Anand Dev Tiwari, Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM)-Administration Harish Chandra, SP Sehdev and Circle Officer Budhana Hariram Yadav have reached the spot and camped in the village.

They met with elders of both the communities and appealed for peace. Given that Bhupkheri lies about 30 km from Saharanpur the officials were quick to contain the violence.

Source: The Hindu

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