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Members of Dalit organisation and vegetable vendors, mostly from Uttar Pradesh, clashed on Sunday evening in Bhatar area of Surat as a fallout of a viral video of a statue of B R Ambedkar being attacked. This is the second incident of violence over the video since Saturday when a state transport bus was torched by the protesters in the city.
Three members of Bhim Sena were arrested on Monday in connection with the Bhatar clash, even as police intensified patrolling in the area.
According to the witnesses, members of the group, armed with sticks shouting ‘Jay Bhim’ attacked 10 vendors and overturned their carts late on Sunday after they came to know that they belonged to Uttar Pradesh.
One of the victims, Sureshkumar Patel from Pratapgarh in UP, said: “There were around 25 youths, all residents of nearby societies. They first came to my cart and inquired if I am from UP or not. After I said yes, they started beating me with sticks and told me and the others that ‘your people have slapped our leader B R Ambedkar’s statue and we will not tolerate it. You go back to UP and don’t keep your cart again here’. Similarly, they targeted nine other vendors and beat them and also damaged their carts.”
Sureshkumar added that six of them suffered injuries. “We are afraid of them, but now Surat police have deployed policemen at the spot,” he said. However, according to police, the video was from Jharkhand.
Taking the incident seriously, patrolling has been intensified in different areas like Udhna, Limbayat, Pandesara and Sachin — where a large number of people hailing from different districts in Uttar Pradesh stay and work.
Khatodara police inspector R R Ahir said, “We have arrested three youths in connection with the incident. We are trying to identify the others… The accused were chanting Jay Bhim as they attacked the vendors.”
A few days ago, a video of a man purportedly slapping a statue of Ambedkar went viral on WhatsApp groups in Surat.