Hundreds of Dalits on Sunday protested in the national capital to demand justice for community members who, they said, fell victim to a communal clash in a village in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh on May 5.
The protestors, led by a newly formed Dalit outfit the Bheem Army and comprising youths from Saharanpur district and nearby towns, were joined at Jantar Mantar by members of the All India Students Association, student wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist).
“We demand cancellation of charges pressed against Chandrashekhar Azad (Bheem Army’s founder member) and strong action against so-called upper caste men who rioted and ransacked Dalit villagers’ property,” AISA National President Sucheta De told IANS.
A clash broke out between members of the two communities when protests were raised over loud music played in the village in connection with the celebration of Maharana Pratap Jayanti in Shabbirpur village.
One person was killed and 16 others injured in the clash.
An AISA member present at the protest spot said the new Dalit rights group had managed to draw a “huge crowd” — which they claimed to be 10,000-15,000 strong– for its maiden protest.
The Bheem Army is a group of educated youths at the grass roots from the region who differ from the traditional narrative of Dalit rights centred around job and educational reservation only, the AISA leader told IANS.