Bridge the trust deficit between Dalits & police in Saharanpur

A fact-finding committee finds UP Police treating Thakurs in Saharanpur with kid gloves and cracking down on Dalits for even Facebook posts

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

NH Web Desk

Accusing Uttar Pradesh Police of arresting Dalit youth for Facebook posts condemning violence by Thakurs, a fact-finding committee that included a retired IG of Police, S R Darapuri has called upon the administration to take immediate steps to reduce the trust deficit between Dalits and the UP Government.

The committee drawn from several states and having representatives of National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ), National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) found that the police had not bothered to take any action against BJP MP Raghav Lakhanpal who led his supporters to first take out an illegal procession and then ransack the then SSP’s residence.

Instead the police had diluted FIRs lodged by Dalits, prevented them from holding peaceful meetings and arrested Dalit youth on trumped up charges. In contrast, trouble makers among the Thakurs have been allowed to roam freely; their arms have not been confiscated even as Dalits are too scared to return home, alleging collusion between Thakurs and the police dominated by Thakurs in the area.

NH Photo
NH Photo
File photo of the Dalits’ protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

No compensation has yet been paid for the 55 Dalit homes, 11 motorcycles and two handcarts set on fire or even as assessment of the damage done. The mob had also attacked the few cattle reared by Dalits in Shabbirpur.

The committee’s report made the following points:

  • Trouble had been brewing since April following Ambedkar Jayanti, and yet, the police did not take precautionary measures.

  • Despite an FIR against the BJP MP, who violated the law and led his supporters in ransacking the SP’s residential office has not yet been arrested.

  • Instead, SSP Love Kumar, who registered the FIR against the MP, was transferred out .

  • No preventive measures allowed under the law was taken such as recommend removal of a person likely to create unrest from a particular area for a specified period of time, revoking arms licenses and seizing illegal fire-arms or set up vigilance and monitoring committee to monitor situation on the ground.

  • Despite information of an event to commemorate Maharana Pratap Jayanti at the Maharana Pratap Memorial Inter College, the administration did nothing to ensure that trouble does not spill over to surrounding villages, and stop any procession whatsoever.

  • A Dalit woman, whose shop was burnt and who was attacked by the mob, was showered with casteist abuses when she went to lodge an FIR. Although it is an offence under the law, no action has been taken.

  • The FIRs lodged were shoddy and several important sections of the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 were left out. These were brought to the attention of the Senior Superintendent of Police.

  • After the violence of May 5, 2017, some of the Dalit youth called for a meeting at the Ravidas Hostel on May 9, 2017 to demand justice for the Dalit victims. The meeting was stopped in the name of law and order.

  • Later when Dalits gathered at Gandhi Park demanding justice and rehabilitation and compensation, the police caned and dispersed the peaceful gathering.

  • False charges have been filed against the founder member of Bhim Army, Chandrashekhar Azad. Several Dalit youths have been arrested and put behind bars in Saharanpur District Jail.

  • Members of the Thakur community have been arrested for provocative social media posts under the IT Act and members of the Dalit community are being considered under the NSA Act for the same offence.

  • The villagers also revealed that many of the Dalits are branded as anti-social elements and are being arrested because of Facebook posts condemning the attack on Dalits in Shabbirpur.

  • The scale of police negligence suggests total apathy towards the Scheduled Castes in the region. It is no surprise that Dalits from the village have no faith in their own police to protect them from such atrocities, and are deeply suspicious of the collusion between dominant castes and the administration in general.

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