Four policemen were injured in a clash between two communities at a village in Saharanpur district after a statue of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar was found smeared with black paint Friday evening. The incident took place at Gharkoli village where violent clashes broke out between the Dalit community and the Thakur community, the former accusing the latter of blackening Ambedkar’s statue.
As a police team reached the spot to control the situation, the villagers began to attack them too, leaving Deputy Superintendent of Police Anand Pandey, Sub-Divisional Magistrate Ram Vilas, and Sub-Inspectors Brijesh Kumar and B B Sharma seriously injured.
Brijesh, who is also the Station Officer of Fatehpur police station, and Sharma, who sustained severe head injuries, are undergoing treatment at the district hospital. Eight persons were arrested in connection with the incident on Saturday. They were produced before a local court which sent them to judicial custody, said Station Officer of Gagalherhi police station, Narender Sharma.
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Circle Officer of Sadar area Anand Pandey, who was injured in the clash, said tension was sparked on Thursday when the Dalits put up a signboard at the entry point of Gharkoli, in which they renamed the village as “The Great Chamar Gharkoli”.
As the Thakur community objected to the signboard, a consensus was reached between the two groups on Friday morning in presence of police and the board was blackened, Pandey said.
The same evening, members of the Dalit community came to know that the statue of Ambedkar placed at the main crossing of the village has been painted black. Both the communities gathered there and began hurling accusations at each other. Soon the argument turned into a scuffle as they indulged in brick-batting, the CO said.
Hearing about the clash, a police team led by Pandey and SDM Vilas rushed to the spot and tried to bring the situation under control. The mob then targeted the police team and started pelting them with stones. Later, another team of senior police officials reached the village and lathi-charged the agitators to restore peace. Heavy police force have been deployed to avoid any untoward incident.