At least 41 Dalits from Gujarat, who were travelling by the Sabarmati Express to deliver a 125 kg soap to Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, were detained at Jhansi station Sunday evening. Members of Ahmedabad-based Dr Ambedkar Vechan Pratibandh Samiti planned to deliver the soap as part of a protest, following reports of nearly 100 Dalit families at Mainpur Deenapatti village in UP’s Kushinagar district receiving two bars of soap and a sachet of shampoo each to “clean themselves” before a visit of the CM in May.
According to the samiti, 45 Dalits, including eight women, boarded Sabarmati Express from Ahmedabad Saturday night for Lucknow. The UP police said 41 members of the group were detained at Jhansi over fears that they could create a law and order problem on reaching Lucknow and also try to visit the CM’s residence there. The RPF at Jhansi station has denied any role in the episode.
Samiti member Martin Macwan, who is currently in Ahmedabad, said: “As the train approached Jhansi, they were asked to move to one compartment. They were then forced to disembark at Jhansi station. Initially, they staged a dharna there. They were then asked to shift to a government resthouse. The authorities claimed it was not safe for them to hold a dharna at the station as they might be attacked.” According to Macwan, the policemen told the group that they were acting on “orders from their seniors”.
ADGP (Kanpur Zone) Avinash Chandra said Jhansi police detained them based on information from Lucknow. “They would be sent back Monday,” he added. It has been learnt that the group now has demanded a written assurance from Jhansi police that the soap would be delivered to Adityanath.