Lucknow/New Delhi: The fresh caste violence in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh that left one youth dead sparked a political slugfest on Wednesday with BSP chief Mayawati putting the blame on the BJP government and a senior state minister accusing the opposition party of shedding crocodile tears.
One person was killed and four others were injured on Tuesday as fresh violence erupted in Saharanpur, which has been witnessing inter-caste clashes since last month. The Yogi Adityanath government also came under attack from the CPI(M) which accused it of backing upper caste "perpetrators" of the violence and asked it to give up its "partisan" stand to ensure that law prevailed in Saharanpur.
As the caste clashes posed the first major law and order challenge for the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government after it assumed office on March 19, Mayawati alleged that casteist forces in the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have been given a free hand to misuse official machinery in order to harm social amity and brotherhood.
"After having damaged the communal atmosphere to gain political and electoral victory, the casteist, mischievous and criminal elements in the BJP and RSS are now bent upon unleashing casteist violence," the Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP) chief said in a party release issued in Lucknow.
During her visit to Saharanpur, she had accused the ruling party of failing to stop its own brigade from attacking weaker sections. In the statement, she also alleged that the administration was hand in glove with BJP and RSS leaders. At a press conference on immunisation campaign in Lucknow, Siddharth Nath Singh, who is the state's health minister and also the official spokesperson, returned the fire and targeted the opposition parties. He said it would have been better if those "shedding tears" over the Saharanpur caste clashes had got themselves associated with the immunisation campaign, in an apparent reference to Mayawati. He, however, did not take her name. He said the state government has taken the Saharanpur incident very seriously and sent four senior officials with the instructions to return only after normalcy is restored. The chief minister has made an appeal to the people to maintain peace and has also sought cooperation from opposition parties, he said.
The CPI(M) condemned the "murderous" attacks on Dalits in Saharanpur and demanded that the state government take firm action against those allegedly assaulting the community members. "The situation is totally deteriorating and the atrocities on Dalits and Muslims are taking place right in front of the eyes of the police. "It is a clear case of complete absence of governance," CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in New Delhi.
The CPI(M) politburo, in a statement, attributed the "steady" deterioration in the situation to the state government allegedly not showing the will to act tough against the upper caste "perpetrators." "The CPI(M) demands firm action against all those involved in the atrocities against the Dalits. The administration has to provide full protection to the vulnerable people," the party said.
In her statement, Mayawati alleged that it was because of the neglect of the administration that BJP supporters targeted Dalits and indulged in violence after she left Saharanpur on Tuesday leading to the death of one person.
"Ever since BJP came to power in the state, law and order and crime control has deteriorated as in other BJP-ruled states and the saffron brigade has got a free hand to carry out communal and casteist activities to harass people... everyone needs to remain vigilant," she said.
"The Dalits are demanding their constitutional rights but casteist forces in the BJP and RSS are out to crush them," she said, adding that those who had condemned Dalit icons all their lives are today out to proclaim themselves as the saviours of Dalits and backwards for the sake of votes.