LUCKNOW: Exactly one year after witnessing one of the worst caste conflagrations, Saharanpur is once again on the boil. The situation is tense after Bhim Army regional president Kamal Walia’s brother Sachin Walia was allegedly shot by unidentified assailants in Ramnagr village area on Wednesday which happened to be the birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap. The victim was rushed to the district hospital but the doctors failed to save his life.
After initial probe, the police claimed that prima facie Sachin’s killing seemed to be accidental. It was claimed that Sachin died under suspicious conditions. “It appears that he sustained a bullet injury from his own licensed gun which went off accidentally while he was cleaning it at his house,” said a senior police official.
On the contrary, Sachin’s relatives and friends have refused to accept police theory and they claimed that he was talking to his friends when assassin riding a motorcycle sprayed him with bullets and he succumbed on the spot. The sources said that the family of deceased took the body in its possession and didn’t allow it to be taken for post-mortem examination and the cops had to toil a lot to send the body for autopsy.
However, Saharanpur SSP Babloo Kumar also said that apparently, death was accidental. "Sachin seems to have killed by a bullet fired from his own firearm while he was cleaning it at home," he said adding that a thorough probe was on to ascertain all the factors which led to the incident.
However, amid heavy deployment police and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), the district administration suspended the internet services in the region as a precautionary measure so as to put a check on inflammatory posts and circulation of messages which often vitiate the atmosphere.
As the news of Sachin’s killing spread, dozens of Dalits took to streets objecting to the Maharana Pratap procession plying through dalit-dominated areas in the town. Saharanpur DM and SSP had to rush to the pacify the protestors.
It may be recalled that last year, on the same day, Dalits and Rajputs had clashed leaving one person dead and 16 others, including one head constable, injured in caste riots in Saharanpur.
As per the local sources, a couple of days ago, Kamal Wallia, Bhim Army’s second-in-command, had expressed apprehension that Thakurs in the district were planning to engineer riots again on May 9 by taking out processions to provoke dalits and Bhim Army. He had even issued a warning to the local residents against celebrating Maharan Pratap’s Jayanti.
Consequently, the district administration had already deployed 800 police personnel at the Maharana Pratap Bhawan. The administration was cautious in its approach and had permitted only 200 people to celebrate the occasion.
In 2017, tensions were at its peak in Shabbirpur and Simlana villages after members of the Dalit community protested against a procession being led by the Thakur community through a temple of Saint Ravidas without prior permission of the local administration. The conflict had led to vandalism and arson from both sides in Shabbirpur village where a number of house of both the communities were set on fire.
Earlier, taking lessons from last year’s conflicts, the district administration had denied permission to celebrate Maharana Pratap Jayanti but after Kshatriya community threatened to boycott the Kairana bypolls, the administration had to give in.