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Saharanpur Tense After Murder Of Bhim Army Leader’s Brother

The 25-year-old Sachin Walia was killed, allegedly by members of the Thakur community, during the Maharana Pratap Jayanti celebrations.

Image Courtesy: News18

On 9 May, a Dalit youth who was a member of the Bhim Army and the younger brother of a Bhim Army local committee leader, was shot dead in Ramnagar area of Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh.

Since then, tension is prevailing in the area as members of the Bhim Army — a Dalit rights group — and locals are demanding action in the case.

The incident happened during the Maharana Pratap Jayanti programme, which was being held by members of the Thakur community.

It is alleged that the 25-year-old Sachin Walia was shot at close range while standing near the place where celebrations were taking place. The Bhim Army has alleged that he was killed by members of the Thakur community.

District Magistrate PK Pandey had visited the area after the murder and ordered a probe in the case. It is being claimed that the Maharana Pratap Bhawan was guarded by police because of tension already prevailing in the area. After being shot, Sachin Walia was taken to a local hospital but he died on the way.

Internet services in the area have been suspended since the incident and Rapid Action Force personnel have been deployed.

The Bhim Army had been demanding that the Maharana Pratap Jayanti programme not be held in this area as it could lead to escalation of tensions. The incident happened exactly a year after clashes happened between the two communities on Maharana Pratap Jayanti last year.

Last year on 5 May, people belonging to the Thakur community were taking out a rally in a Dalit-dominated area of Shabbirpur in Saharanpur district, shouting slogans and playing loud music. When the locals objected to this, the situation escalated and resulted in clashes, after which it is claimed that more than 50 houses of Dalits were burnt.

After this incident, the Bhim Army gave a call for a meeting in Saharanpur on 9 May for which permission was not given. Following this, there were clashes and an angry mob burnt and damaged state property. Since this incident, Bhim Army leader Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan has been booked under the National Security Act and is in jail.

Talking to the media, Sachin’s elder brother and the Saharanpur district head of Bhim army, Kamal Walia, said, “We had already conveyed our apprehensions to the administration that something untoward might happen in the Maharana Pratap anniversary celebrations and had even submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate. Yet they gave permission to the upper castes to go on with the celebrations. My fear has come true. Thakurs have killed my brother.”

Speaking to Newsclick, Rohit Raj Gautam, the Rampur district head of Bhim Army, said, “The administration had said that they won’t give permission for this event but it was still given at the last minute. The programme had around 700 people though the permission had been given only for 200 people. Before this, a video was circulated by the Thakurs which threatened and challenged us for stopping them.”

“We submitted this video to the local administration but no action was taken against the accused. We have lodged an FIR against five people belonging to the Thakur community. We hope action will be taken soon in the case,” Gautam said.

He added that thousands of locals had turned up for the last rites of Sachin Walia.

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