Caste politics in Saharanpur: As violence escalates, Yogi suspends DM, SSP

The caste violence has led to a political slugfest with chief Mayawati putting the blame on BJP

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Fresh violence was witnessed in Saharanpur in which three persons were injured on Wednesday, prompting the government to suspend the district magistrate and the senior superintendent of police (SSP). The Divisional Commissioner and the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) were transfered in the wake of the continuing violence in this district of Uttar Pradesh which has been hit by caste-based clashes.

Mobile internet and messaging services were also suspended in the district to prevent rumour mongering. Later on Wednesday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said strong action is being taken against all those responsible for the violence and appealed for calm.

He said people should not pay heed to inflammatory speeches and should help in maintaining peace and order. Adityanath also met Governer Ram Naik late on Wednesday evening. They are understood to have discussed developments in Saharanpur.

The caste violence has led to a political slugfest with Bhaujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati putting the blame on the BJP government and a senior state minister accusing the opposition party of “shedding tears”. Earlier on Wednesday, one Pradeep Chauhan was shot at in Janakpuri area by some motorcycle-borne men, superintendent of police Prabal Pratap Singh said.

Chauhan was rushed to the district hospital, from where he was referred to a speciality centre. Members of the Thakur community protested against the incident outside the district hospital. In another incident, some persons attacked two men while they were sleeping near a brick kiln in Mirzapur village, the police said.

One Nitin was shot at, while another person Yashpal was severely beaten up by the attackers, the police said. They suffered serious injuries and have been admitted to the district hospital. The police, however, said the incident could not be linked to the ongoing caste violence.

On Tuesday, a few unidentified people had set afire 12 houses of Thakurs in Shabbirpur village ahead of the arrival of BSP chief Mayawati. A mob later attacked a group of people returning from a rally of Mayawati, killing one Ashish (24), who hailed from Sarsawa town, on the spot and injuring four others. | READMORE…

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Saharanpur protests herald a new phase in Uttar Pradesh’s dalit politics

BJP is making inroads among Dalits but at the same time, Dalits come together when they are attacked

1495424440-0858[People from the Dalit community hold a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Sunday]

Saharanpur, a district known for its woodcraft products in western UP, is in the news for two caste and communal incidents, involving clashes with Dalits. The ongoing Dalit Protest in the district, which has now reached the capital New Delhi, suggests a new phase in Dalit politics in UP, closely related to the declining fortunes of the BSP, and efforts by the BJP to bring the Dalits into the ambit of its more socially inclusive Hindutva strategy.

Dalit politics has been through a number of phases in UP related to the strategies pursued by the BSP and rapid social change in the state in recent decades. In the 1990s the construction of Dalit identity by BSP leaders Kanshiram and Mayawati, promoted a radical, anti-upper caste politics, demanding self-respect and dignity. The BSP was still a movement-party, a democratizing force moving downwards to mobilize the smaller and marginal Dalit sub-castes in the poorer regions of UP.

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By the end of the decade two developments introduced significant change: class divisions within the community with rise in literacy and attainment of non-agricultural employment among a small better off section of the Dalits, which coincided with the weakening of identity politics and the return of a desire for development in the state. For the better-off, upwardly mobile, section of Dalits, the improvement of economic status became as important as identity and self-respect and they tended to move away from the BSP, becoming more open to parties that promised economic betterment. This shift has been more marked among the non-Jatav Dalits rather than the Jatavs who form the core constituency of the party.

The second significant change was the attempt in the 2000s by the leadership of a resurgent BJP to widen its social base and incorporate the OBCs and Dalits. While this strategy had begun in the 1990s, under Amit Shah the party began a second round of more strident experimentation with non-Brahmin Hindutva to create a ‘Maha Hindu’ identity which would enable them to both win elections and create a united Hindu force against the Muslim ‘other’. These changes have contributed to fragmentation within the Dalit community, which are visible in Saharanpur. ReadMore