National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) – NCDHR, New Delhi strongly condemns the caste based atrocity on Dalits of Shabbirpur village in Uttar Pradesh, Saharanpur district on 05.05.2017, which has resulted in 12 Dalits seriously injured and up to 55 houses set on fire, ransacked, and looted after attack by the dominant “Rajput” community. NDMJ instituted a High-Level National Fact-Finding team made up of 26 activists, advocates and leaders from civil society organizations from the states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, New Delhi and Chhattisgarh. The team spent two days – 14 and 15 May – in Saharanpur and visited village Shabbirpur and other neighboring villages as well as the district hospital. On 14th the team met members from Dalit community and Rajput community. On 15th May, the team met the District Magistrate and the Senior Superintendent of Police (Saharanpur district). Through the team’s interactions, we were able to discern reasons for the breakout of violence, linked to continuous discrimination of the Dalits by the dominant caste community and their struggle for their socio – economic and political rights and entitlements in all spheres of life.
Trouble had been brewing in these areas since April, 2017 in relation to erecting the statute of Baba Saheb Ambedkar on Ambedkar Jayanti, and yet, the police did not take adequate precautionary measures and violence took place. Despite the UP Police registering an FIR against the BJP MP, the political leader and his supporters have not yet been arrested. Instead, SSP Love Kumar, who registered the FIR against the MP, was transferred out immediately thereafter the incident of 05.05.2017. Further to substantiate the failure of the administration the newly joined District Magistrate has been transferred and the Senior Superintendent of Police is being suspended on 24.05.2017.
UP Police also did not take any of the preventive measures allowed under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 and the accompanying Rules (1995), such as recommend removal of a person likely to create unrest from a particular area for a specified period of time (Section 10(1), 1989 Act), consider revoking arms licenses and seizing illegal fire-arms of the Thakurs with a view to ensure safety (Rule 3(1)(iii and iv), or set up vigilance and monitoring committee to closely monitor situation on the ground (Rule 3(1)(vii). These measures may have helped contain violence.
Knowing that tensions were high post-April and that an event to commemorate Maharana Pratap Jayanti was being held in the Maharana Pratap Memorial Inter College, the administration should have taken all needed steps to ensure that the event in the college premises does not spill over into any surrounding villages, including any procession whatsoever. It is of serious concern that BJP leaders were present at the college programme as it escalated into a procession. The police was not deployed in adequate numbers and failed to ensure security. As a result, when the situation got out of hand, and the mob turned violent, the police found themselves heavily outnumbered.
We also condemn murderous attacks on Dalits again on 23.05.2017 in Shabbirpur Village, Saharanpur which has resulted in a Dalit youth being killed and many seriously injured. Certain upper caste elements launched these attacks on people returning from a meeting addressed by BSP leader Mayawati. These attacks have come in the wake of the earlier assaults on Dalits in Shabbirpur on 05.05.2017.
The steady deterioration in the situation is a result of the support the upper caste perpetrators of violence are receiving from the state government and the lack of will displayed by the administration for taking action against them.
- Firm action against all those involved in the atrocities against the Dalits.
- Immediate alteration of sections in FIR and include Sections 3(1)(r), (s), (t), (u), (v), (w)(ii) & 3(2)(iii) & (v) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 as amended in 2015 and initiate legal proceedings against the concerned officials for not registering cases under appropriate sections under section (4) of the SCs and STs (PoA) Act 1998.
- Proper estimation of damages (physical as well as psychological) inflicted on 55 Dalit households and relief and rehabilitation package should be announced without any further delay taking into consideration the damages and livelihood loss. The shops belonging to Dalits, which were damaged, to be re established as top priority.
- Government should take measures to extern persons likely to create unrest from a particular area for a specified period of time (Section 10(1), 1989 Act), consider revoking arms licenses and seizing illegal fire-arms of the Thakurs and providing arms licenses to Dalits with a view to ensure safety as per Rule 3(1)(iii and iv) of SCs and STs (PoA) Rules 1995.
- Government should take up measures to set up vigilance and monitoring committee to closely monitor situation on the ground as per Rule 3(1)(vii) SCs and STs (PoA) Rules 1995.
- The administration must withdraw false cases implicating Dalits and their leaders.
Ms. Asha Kowtal,
All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM)
8/1,2 nd Floor, South Patel Nagar,
Dr. V.A. Ramesh Nathan,
National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ)
7/58, 1st Floor, South Patel Nagar,
Mr. Paul Divakar,
Dalit Arthik Adhikar Andolan (DA3),
8/1,2 nd Floor, South Patel Nagar,
Image Credit – The Quint