ONE PERSON was killed and at least 13 injured in fresh violence in Saharanpur on Tuesday evening. Barring a Muslim who was injured, the others are all Dalits.
According to reports, the victims were targeted — in small groups across different areas — when they were returning after attending BSP chief Mayawati’s public meeting in Shabbirpur village. Some of the injured said they were attacked by Thakurs, with rods, lathis and knives. Police, however, did not confirm the identity of the attackers. Nobody has been arrested so far.
“One person was brought dead to Saharanpur district hospital while 13 were injured. Three of the 13 sustained grievous injuries and have been sent to Meerut,” said SP City (Saharanpur) Prabal Pratap Singh. Asked if the attackers were from the Thakur community, he declined comment.
The person who died has been identified as Ashish Meghraj, 25, a resident of Sarsawa. “He had a stab injury on the right side of his abdomen and other injuries on his body. The cause of death is yet to be ascertained,” said B S Sodhi, Chief Medical Officer, Saharanpur District Hospital.
“One person sustained a bullet injury, while two others had deep wounds which appeared to have been inflicted by knives. All have been sent to Meerut,” said Sodhi. The three have been identified as Phool Singh, Akbar and Mavasi.
The others who were injured have been admitted to the district hospital. Inderpal, 50, who was undergoing treatment in the emergency ward, said that half-an-hour after Mayawati’s meeting, he was attacked by about 10 people. “Five are Rajputs from my village. They thrashed us with rods and lathis. Both my arms are fractured, and I suffered a head injury also,” he alleged, adding that he was from Shabbirpur village.
Shekhar, 16, said he was on his bicycle, returning from Mayawati’s meeting, when he was attacked near Shimlana canal, about seven kilometres from Shabbirpur. The youth suffered head injuries in the attack. He too alleged that the attackers were Rajputs.
Another injured, Narendra Kumar from Halalpur, said he was on his motorcycle with two others, when they were targeted in Ambheta, about 15 kilometres from Shabbirpur. “They hit us on our heads and bodies. We don’t know why we were attacked,” he said.
Following the attacks, Dalits gathered outside the district hospital at about 9 pm and demanded justice. In the last 18 days, this is the third time that the district has seen inter-caste violence.
It began on May 5, when a Thakur man was killed and 25 Dalit homes set ablaze in clashes that lasted around five hours after Dalits in the village objected to loud music being played by Thakurs in a procession to attend a function in honour of Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap.
Meanwhile, Additional Director General, law and order, Aditya Mishra, said the situation was under control and additional forces had been sent to the area.
Terming today’s violence as unfortunate, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in a statement, said the officials concerned would be punished for any laxity. He appealed to the people to maintain peace and also sought cooperation from the opposition parties in restoring peace and harmony.
A delegation of four senior officials — Secretary (Home) Mani Prasad Mishra, ADG (law and order) Aditya Mishra, IG (STF) Amitabh Yash and DG (Security) Vijay Bhushan — has been sent to the district.
“Peace and harmony had been restored in Saharanpur. But there was an atmosphere of tension and disturbance after the visit of a former chief minister… an unfortunate incident occurred… an innocent youth was killed,” said Cabinet Minister and government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma.
— With ENS inputs, Lucknow