2018 Valmiki protest haunts BJP’s Som Prakash in Phagwarahttps://indianexpress.com/elections/2018-valmiki-protest-haunts-bjps-som-prakash-in-phagwara-5732383/

2018 Valmiki protest haunts BJP’s Som Prakash in Phagwara

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BJP candidate from Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha (reserved) constituency Som Parkash. (Photo: https://indiavotekar.com/leader/som-prakash)

BJP candidate from Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha (reserved) constituency, Som Parkash, is facing the ire of the Valmiki community at his home turf, the Phagwara Assembly segment. Som Parkash is sitting MLA from Phagwara Assembly constituency, and the community has decided not to support him in this election.

The reason is last year’s ‘Dalit vs upper caste’ clashes in Phagwara that resulted in the death of a Dality boy, Bobby.

Phagwara has nearly 15,000 votes of the Valmiki community in these segments, including around 10,000 voters living in Phagwara city area.

In April last year on the eve of Dr BR Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, a midnight clash took place between Dalit and Hindu organisations in Phagwara for putting up boards renaming of the ‘Gol Chowk’ of Phagwara as ‘Samvidhan Chowk’ by some activists of Dalit organisation. During the clash, a youth from the Valmiki community was hit by a bullet and died later. Phagwara later remained tense for over two weeks with 3000 security personnel deployed on the ground.

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Local MLA Som Parkash, a Dalit himself, had stayed away from the cremation of the boy which was attended by several Dalit leaders from across Punjab including Dr Raj Kumar Chabbewal, who is Congress candidate from Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha constituency.

“Despite being local MLA Som Parkash and his men did not dare to enter our mohalla to ask for votes as we had already announced that we will not vote for him,” said Satish Ram, a resident of Subhash Nagar locality.

“MLA Som Parkash and Mayor Arun Khosla both had supported the ‘General Samaj’ in their dharna during that clash,” said Meena Kumari, a resident of Valmiki Mohalla in Bansawala Bazaar, adding that her mohalla too had decided not to support MLA Som Parkash.

“Valmiki vote from the city is quite committed and if it decides to boycott anyone, it’s certain,” said a political leader from Phagwara.