Kanpur Dehat: In what can be said as the redux of Saharanpur clashes, over 30 people belonging to the dalit community sustained serious injuries after they were attacked by the dominant Thakurs of the Mangta village in Kanpur Dehat.
According to the villagers, the clash between the Thakurs and Dalits took place on February 13 following which heavy police forces from eight police stations of the district and one company of the PAC have been deployed in the area. The Mangta village is about 8 kilometre from the Kanpur Dehat district headquarters.
Ashok Kumar Chamar, who received minor injuries during the clashes, told NewsClick that the tension between the upper caste Thakurs of the village and Dalits started brewing on February 5.
“We, the dalits of the village, were holding the Bheem Katha and Buddha Katha from February 1 to 7 and the Thakurs did not like this. They once asked us to stop our programme for two hours saying a baraat (marriage procession) was proceeding, but people from our side declined due to which the tension increased,” Ashok said.
He alleged, “The Thakurs attacked them while they were taking out the Bhim Shobha Yatra (a procession) in the village on February 12. They tore the posters of Babasaheb Ambedkar with the sticks due to which the dalits got outraged and stone-pelting started from both the sides in which about six persons were injured.”
“Soon after this the police were informed about the incident, a dialogue was held between the dalits and the upper caste men. The situation returned to normal after that. Surprisingly, the Thakurs attacked the dalits the very next day, torching one of the houses and injuring more than two dozen people from the village,” he said.
Locals told NewsClick that the attack took place at two locations in the village—merely 600 metre apart.
‘More than 500 people attacked us’
Jyoti, 19, a resident of the village, who has sustained serious injuries, alleged that there were more than 500 men of all ages but mostly youths attacked them.
“I was attacked with an axe that hit my leg and what else I remember is that they beat our people, torching one of the houses and even tearing the clothes of the women,” she said. According to the doctors treating Jyoti, her condition is stable, but she has received several injuries on her leg, head and other body parts, which will take months to recover.
It may be noted that the population of the Mangta village consists of about 40% dalits and 60% upper-caste people.
Golu Kumar, another resident from the village, told NewsClick that policemen were present when this happened and they “did nothing”.
“The policemen were making videos and were mute spectators of this incident. They did not even stop people from torching the house of one Amit Kumar and this was done even as we had secured permission for everything from the district administration,” he says.
Kanpur Dehat’s police chief said that so far, 12 people have been arrested and sent to jail after an FIR was registered against them under sections 147, 148, 149, 452, 436, 354 (B), 324, 325, 504, 508 and SC ST act of the Indian Penal Code.
“The matter is being investigated and more people will be arrested very soon. All these people are from the upper caste. The intelligence report we have received from the village says that the villagers want to end this matter and live happily together, but there are some unruly elements who are giving traction and trying to incite,” he said.
Refuting the allegation of police being mute spectators, he said that on receiving the information, three policemen were sent and they did their best by speaking to the villagers, doing the videography of the incident. “We are identifying people based on the videography done by our men,” he added.
The police also said that the attackers were not more than 100 in numbers.
Speaking about this incident, dalit thinker Rajendra Gautam said that this is nothing new and “this keeps on happening”.
“Dalits in India have been witnessing such things from pre-independence era and it is shameful for all of us that this is happening even today. The reason behind this is nothing but casteism and the ego that says dalits cannot be given an equal status in the society,” he said, adding, “Atrocities like such is one of the main reasons why Dalits, especially in Uttar Pradesh, often consider mass conversion to other religions. Dalits, despite being Hindus, are not seen as Hindus by the upper castes.”
The upper caste men of Mangta village were not available for their comments.
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