Rights watchdog Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) today condemned the attacks on Dalits in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh and sought an independent inquiry into the role of the state police during the violence. A CHRI delegation visited the violence-affected Shabbirpur and neighbouring villages in the district, as part of a national level fact-finding team led by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR). “Together with the team, the CHRI strongly condemns the mass attack on Dalits in Shabbirpur village on May 5 and the failure of the local administration in preventing and stopping the violence,” it said in a statement. The right body demanded that an independent inquiry be conducted into the “performance of all concerned units of the UP Police to identify all acts of negligence, complicity and/or violation, particularly against its duties in the POA (Prevention of Atrocities) Act”.
At the minimum, the inquiry must include a review of the steps taken by the state police to monitor law and order in the district following unrest in April, it said. The CHRI said it must also include “steps taken by all concerned police units in charge of the affected villages to ascertain legality and necessity of all their actions including assessing threat levels, requesting additional force, and actions to stop the violence; and allegations claiming delay in registering FIR for the Dalit victims and ill-treatment by the police personnel”. Violence first broke out in Saharanpur about 40 days ago following a procession to mark Ambedkar Jayanti.
On May 5, a person was killed and 15 people were injured in clashes between Dalits and upper caste Thakurs.
About a dozen police vehicles were set ablaze and 12 policemen were injured on May 9. On May 23, another person was shot dead and two others were wounded.