Saharanpur's Rajputs Warn The BJP: Give Us Justice, Or Lose Our Votes

We traveled to Shabbirpur, the village of Dalits and Rajputs south of Saharanpur town that emerged as an epicentre for the cascading violence. Several Dalit homes were burnt by Rajputs earlier this month in clashes sparked by a Rajput procession through a Dalit area. A Rajput man was killed in the violence.

 Share
EMAIL
PRINT
COMMENTS
Saharanpur:  In his palatial home in Saharanpur, in western Uttar Pradesh, the BJP lawmaker from here Raghav Lakhanpal is confronted by an angry group of Rajput men. 

They are relatives of 11 young men arrested by the UP police on charges of attacking Dalits who were returning from Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati rally earlier this week. One Dalit boy was shot dead, 15 were badly injured in the latest chapter in a cycle of sectarian violence that has rocked this region for close to a month now. 

The Rajputs, who consider themselves a core political base of the BJP, seem shaken by the arrests. 

They claim that their boys are innocent and must be released from jail.

"Five people from one family (have been picked up). Are they all terrorists?" Mangeram Pundhir, from whose house five men were arrested, asked Mr Lakhanpal. 

The violence has uncovered the BJP's dilemma - while Rajputs constitute a loyal base, the party cannot afford to antagonise Dalits, whose increasing support played a key role in delivering a massive mandate to the party. 

"Be patient," urged Mr Lakhanpal, attempting to calm his angry constituents. "How can we be calm", asked Mr Pundhir, his voice cracked with emotion.  

Mr Lakhanpal assured the Rajputs that he had told the police to conduct a fair inquiry. "I have told the police anyone who is guilty should not be spared," he said, "but there should be no wrong charges."

Equally, Mr Lakhanpal has to allay fears amongst Dalits that the BJP is not partial to Rajputs. 

"We need to sit the communities down, we need to get rid of all those tensions and make sure that they co-exist peacefully in the future," he told NDTV. 

But both communities seem unhappy with the manner in which the administration has dealt with the unrest. 

The Rajputs, who we spoke to after the meeting, had a clear message for the BJP. 

"If we do not get justice, why would we vote for the BJP?," says Mr Pundhir. "The situation could be very different in 2019 (Lok Sabha elections)," he said. 
 
saharanpur police 650

Home Ministry had rushed 400 riot-control policemen to Saharanpur on Thursday

Later, we traveled to Shabbirpur, the village of Dalits and Rajputs south of Saharanpur town that emerged as an epicentre for the cascading violence. Several Dalit homes were burnt by Rajputs earlier this month in clashes sparked by a Rajput procession through a Dalit area. A Rajput man was killed in the violence. 

Comments
Here, the Dalits, otherwise traditional BSP loyalists, said that they voted for the BJP in the recent assembly elections. 

But they too issued a veiled threat. "This incident will directly affect the BJP," said Jagpal, a resident of the village. For better or worse, we asked? "Only time will tell," he said.  

NDTV Beeps - your daily newsletter

................................ Advertisement ................................

................................ Advertisement ................................

................................ Advertisement ................................