National Commission of Scheduled Castes Chairperson P L Punia visited the violence-hit Kanawani village in Noida on Tuesday. He said he would request the government to give compensation to Dalits, whose homes were damaged.
In violence that erupted last Monday, one Gujjar was killed in an argument over property and, in the escalating violence, angry Gujjars attacked Dalit homes, with several members of the community forced to leave their houses in fear.
Punia, who is the Congress MP from Barabanki and one of the Dalit faces of the party, visited the site of the violence and spoke to Dalits, who have stayed back. “The case has been taken up by the commission and will come up for hearing on May 19. We will request that compensation be given to those people whose homes were damaged in the attack. This is an unfortunate incident,” the former UP Principal Secretary said.
Attacking Narendra Modi, Punia said, “The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate could not even speak against Baba Ramdev’s statements against Rahul Gandhi, which was a slur against lower castes. He has debased the level of debate. He speaks of the Gujarat model of development, but Dalits in his state are downtrodden and there is no development for them.”
Kanawani has seen a slew of high-profile visitors in the past few days, from politicians to bureaucrats. National Commission of Scheduled Castes Secretary J N Chamber and Dalit leader Ravi Gautam have already visited the village.
Locals, however, said they were tired of the “attention” and said politicians were only interested in keeping the matter alive for political gains. “They all say we will stand for you, but there are no concrete assurances. Perhaps, if they stop coming, things would return to normal and polarisation in this village would stop,” Darshan Kumar, a Dalit, said.
In their quest for “impartial witnesses”, police have been knocking the doors of apartments that overlook the field where the argument started. “We have made enquiries but nobody has come forward despite many balconies overlooking the place where the shooting commenced,” a police officer said.