Caste conflicts in India; Dalits threaten protests after 22-year-old attacked by Hindu group activists


NEW DELHI Jan 18 (TNS): Dalit organisations have threatened to launch an agitation after a 22-year-old lower caste man was allegedly assaulted and forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ by activists of a right-wing Hindu group in west Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar, officials said on Wednesday.

A video clip of the assault on Vipin Kumar emerged on Wednesday, sparking caste tension in the region that saw clashes between Dalits and Thakurs in May last year.

Police said the incident occurred on January 14 when Vipin was assaulted at Megha-Shikarpur village, allegedly for leading a group of Dalits planning to convert to Buddhism and had removed portraits of Hindu deities from their homes.

The attackers were heard saying in the video that they had no objection in Dalits keeping portraits of Dr Ambedkar and worshiping him but they could not remove portraits of Hindu deities from their homes.

Vipin was forced to say “Jai Sriram” and to hail other Hindu gods and goddesses.

Vipin’s father lodged a case against few villagers in Purkaji police station and later activists of Dalit groups such as Bheem Army, Baudh Mahasabha and Jai Sindhu Sangh staged demonstration at the office of Muzaffarnagar senior superintendent of police.

The Bheem Army announced a dharna on Wednesday while the Shahid Udham Singh Sena threatened to launch an agitation if the police failed to arrest the accused by January 17.

Police later detained two women related to the accused, triggering protests by members of the accused community. The women were later released.

In a related incident on Tuesday, a Dalit family was allegedly assaulted by people from an upper caste at Meeva village in Meerut. Police said the incident started over a petty issue of right of way on a narrow village road.

In May last year, one Thakur was killed in brick-batting between members of the two communities, and in retaliation, the Thakurs torched over 20 dwellings of Dalits.

Dalits went on rampage after police banned their proposed mahapanchayat, convened to demand justice over the torching of their homes in Shabbirpur.

Activists and local Dalits set at least 20 vehicles and a police post on fire and thrashed passengers of buses and other passersby at different places of the district.