The Delhi Police Saturday denied permission for a demonstration by several Dalit unions — protesting against alleged atrocities on Dalits in Saharanpur — scheduled for Sunday in the capital. The unions had told police that they expected a gathering of over 50,000 people, which prompted police to deny permission.
DCP (New Delhi) B K Singh said different unions had requested permission for the demonstration at Jantar Mantar Sunday. “The capacity of Jantar Mantar is 5,000, and there are already several protests going on there… The permission for this demonstration has been denied,” he said, adding that police in border areas have been asked to keep a tab on the movement of protesters.
However, members of the Bhim Army said they have already arrived in Delhi and will go ahead with the protest.
Deepak Baudh, Deoband president of the Bhim Army, said, “Police cancelled our permission two hours ago. A lot of people have taken buses, trains and have reached Delhi. We believe in the Constitution and will abide by it. We are going to hold the protest at Jantar Mantar tomorrow.”
The issue dates back to May 5, when a mob from the Thakur community allegedly burned and ransacked 25 houses belonging to Dalits, and injured 15 members from the community, in Saharanpur. Earlier that day, a group of Thakur men wanted to take out a musical procession honouring Maharana Pratap, which had been opposed by Dalits citing lack of permission from authorities.
Police had reached the village and defused the situation temporarily. But a few Thakur men called their friends. Police said around 100 people from the Thakur community came to the village, after which Dalits allegedly threw bricks and a Thakur man was killed. In the next hour, more than 2,000 men from the Thakur community gheraoed the village, leading to violence. Seventeen people from both communities were arrested and nine FIRs were registered.
A pro-Dalit organisation, the Bhim Army, had given a letter to authorities requesting a high-level inquiry. The founder, Chandrashekhar, had also called for a protest.