Thakur-Dalit clash in Muzaffarnagar
Dalits and Thakurs today clashed again in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar with firearms and sharp weapons, four months after bloody battles between the two castes in neighbouring Saharanpur district.
- Published 8.09.17
Lucknow, Sept. 7: Dalits and Thakurs today clashed again in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar with firearms and sharp weapons, four months after bloody battles between the two castes in neighbouring Saharanpur district.
Today's clashes took place after some Thakurs allegedly molested Dalit women in Bhupkheri village, 550km west of Lucknow, when the Dalits were celebrating the birth anniversary of a saint. The Thakurs also allegedly damaged a statue of Dalit icon Babasaheb Bhimarao Ambedkar.
Over 18 people suffered injuries and were admitted to government hospitals.
The Dalits were marking the birth anniversary of Guru Samandas in Guru Ravidas temple, where a large number of women had gathered. Guru Samandas was a Dalit saint and follower of the 16th century saint-poet Ravidas. Samandas was born in Muzaffarnagar district in 1920.
Thakur youths of the village allegedly molested several Dalit women when they were returning home from the temple in the morning.
Police said both sides used sharp-edged weapons and firearms. The condition of two persons, one from either side, was stated to be critical. Neither had suffered bullet injuries.
Ajay Sahdev, superintendent of police (rural), told reporters in Muzaffarnagar that the police used "mild force" to disperse the warring groups.
"The Provincial Armed Constabulary and the police have been deployed in Bhupkheri to prevent possible backlash. The situation is under control. Both sides have lodged police complaints against each other and FIRs will be registered against those who took law and order into their hand," Sahdev said.
Around 9pm, some Dalit women began a dharna near the broken statue of Ambedkar, demanding immediate arrest of the accused. The police were trying to convince them to leave.
Sandeep Kumar, an injured Dalit who is admitted to Khatauli Community Health Centre, told reporters that some Thakur youths had been misbehaving with Dalit women since last evening.
"Our programme had started last evening. The Thakur youths gathered in the streets and started teasing our women. We avoided them because we didn't want a fight at that time. But we reacted today when they started molesting our women," Sandeep said.
In their police complaint, the Thakurs have rejected the allegation and claimed that Dalit youths had been planning to attack them for the past six months.
Thakurs and Dalits had fought earlier in Bhupkheri village in March after the Thakurs allegedly directed barbers not to serve Dalits.
In Saharanpur, members of the two castes in Shabbirpur village, 50km from Bhupkheri, clashed on May 5 during a procession celebrating Rajput king Maharana Pratap. This had sparked month-long violence in which three persons died. The Dalits had alleged continued atrocities, including burning of their crops and houses.
Hundreds of Dalit families from Saharanpur villages had embraced Buddhism "in protest against the atrocities on Dalits under the Yogi Adityanath government".
What lit the first spark was the Thakurs' objection to a roadside statue of Ambedkar pointing a finger at their passing womenfolk.