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29 May 2017

A fragile peace prevails in violence-hit Saharanpur... Home Secretary says politicians banned in affected areas

Keeping the peace: The police deployed on the premises of the Ravidas temple at Shabbirpur village. Arrangement
Mohammad Ali, TH, SHABBIRPUR, MAY 28, 2017 : Twenty-five days after two persons were killed and dozens injured in caste clashes at Shabbirpur village, a semblance of normality seems to be back with the police deployment.
When The Hindu talked to the victims and members of the Thakur and Dalit communities in the affected villages, it seemed they were nursing the same grievances which triggered the clashes in the first place. Many peace-loving citizens expressed the fear that violence may flare up even with the smallest of sparks.
“Police remained mute spectators when Dalits came and threw stones and abused us,” alleged Abhimanyu, a Thakur resident of Shabbirpur in his early twenties.
Barely 200 metres from Abhimanyu’s house which had “Rajputana”, a symbol of Thakur pride, written on the walls, Rampal, a man in his late forties, sat on a small cot with many other Dalits. Behind them stood a row of houses torched allegedly by a Thakur mob after Dalits objected to loud music of a Maharana Pratap memorial procession, on May 5.
“They can play loud music while crossing our places of veneration and raise anti-Ambedkar slogans and we should not object. When we objected they burnt our houses. And now they are so upset if Dalits merely walk through the village road which goes through Thakur areas? Did you see any Dalit abusing anyone in that video?,” said Rampal, questioning Abhimanyu’s version. “Did he tell you that hours after Dalits passed through Thakur lanes, on May 23, one Dalit youth was killed and 11 of them were brutally attacked with swords?” Rampal asked.
The administration has held peace meetings between Dalits and Thakurs.

Concern remains

Uttar Pradesh Home Secretary Mani Prasad Mishra acknowledged that even the smallest incident could spark off fresh violence. But he was hopeful that the peace measures initiated by the new team of officers deployed in the district after the DM and SSP were shifted out last week, would help control the situation. “But, yes we need to be cautious about not allowing any more provocations. We are not allowing any politician to visit the affected areas,” he said.

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