The immersion, families said, was symbolic of them giving up Hinduism and embracing Buddhism to express their discontent over the ‘unfair’ treatment meted out to the Bhim Army, which they think ‘is a conspiracy to defame the group of Dalit activists’.
“The police is intentionally harassing us. Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar Azad is being targeted because he raised his voice against the atrocities inflicted by upper caste people on Dalits,” said Deepak, a resident of Kapurpur village.
Additionally, the villagers also wrote to police officials, saying that Dalits were not safe. Police officials, however, had a different story to tell. Speaking to News18, Saharanpur SSP Subhash Chandra Dubey said, “Firstly, we do not have any information about any such activity. Secondly, choosing what faith to follow is a matter of personal choice. If people think they can get away with crimes by indulging in such activities, I would like to tell them that the Indian Penal Code is equal for everyone.”
So far, 10 FIRs have been registered against administrators of Facebook and WhatsApp accounts which were spreading rumours and inciting communal hatred in Saharanpur. The administrators named in the FIR mostly belong to the Bhim Army. Besides 10 cases registered under IT Act, Saharanpur police have lodged 14 other FIRs and have arrested 36 persons. In the past one week, 25 houses have been burnt down, 23 vehicles have been torched and several buses have been damaged.
An unregistered group and a movement as they call it, Bhim Army started as a social media phenomenon more than two years ago. In a short span of time, thousands of Dalits across the country started identifying themselves with this ‘aggressive’ and new kind of Ambedkarite politics. There are more than 40,000 Dalits who are members of this organization and it is spreading its wings outside Uttar Pradesh also.