The violent crowd allegedly broke CCTV cameras and furniture and set public properties on fire.
MEERUT — Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh witnessed communal clashes on Thursday after BJP MP Raghav Lakhanpal and other party leaders took out the “Ambedkar shobha yatra,” allegedly without police permission, through the communally sensitive parts of the city.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Saharanpur, Love Kumar, has ordered filing of FIR against Mr. Lakhanpal and over 500 others for the violence, vandalism and attack on the house of the Senior Superintendent of Police and the DM office.
Sadak Dudhli village, on the outskirts of Saharanpur, has a mixed population of Muslims and Dalits. No procession had been taken out here in the last seven years. After the Yogi Adityanath government took charge in Uttar Pradesh, Hindu groups, in coordination with local BJP leaders, announced that they would take out a procession, called ‘Shobha Yatra’ in local parlance, through the village. The police denied them permission as it was a communally sensitive area, but the BJP leaders went ahead. The procession was attacked with stones when it was about to enter the Muslim area of the village.
The ensuing clash stopped the BJP procession from being taken through the Muslim area. BJP supporters then went on a rampage and attacked the house of the Senior Superintendent of Police. The violent crowd allegedly broke CCTV cameras and furniture and set public properties on fire.
The western Uttar Pradesh town has been turned into a fortress with huge police deployment. Though the situation is under control, rumour mills have ensured that the region remains tense.
Mr. Lakhanpal and BJP leaders have threatened that they would take the “shobha yatra” through Sadak Dudhli on April 23. The MP said “he would not allow Saharanpur to become Kashmir,” a comparison which provoked strong condemnation from SP leaders like Sudhir Panwar and Dalit activists like Satish Prakash.
Mr. Prakash condemned the BJP’s attempt to “misuse Ambedkar’s name to communally polarise the region.”
The Samajwadi Party has formed a five-member team to probe the violence and submit a report in three days to party chief Akhilesh Yadav.
“Police took out a flag march in the village and the situation is under control,” Mr. Kumar told the media. He said two FIRs had been registered, one for the communal clash in which 10 persons from both sides had been booked and another for the attack on the SSP’s house and vandalism and rioting on the road in which BJP MP’s supporters were found to be involved.
The last time the city saw communal riots was in 2014 when a dispute over a land triggered into major communal clashes between Muslims and Sikhs, killing three persons and injuring many.