<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What could be the reasons behind the sudden rise in caste conflicts?Dominant communities like Rajputs have always subjugated the Dalits, who have traditionally been serving them. While these are strong words, this is how the social equation has been for many centuries. This structure has been toppling over the last 10-15 years, with Dalits advancing economically, politically, and academically. This must have made the dominant castes feel threatened of a possible disruption in the social structure. However, the problem escalates because the dominant castes refuse to accept this Dalit ascend, which reflects even in minor issues. Case in point could be the April skirmish when the Dalits weren’t allowed to put up a statue of Dr Ambedkar within the premises of Ravidas temple in Shabbirpur village. Ideally, this shouldn’t have been an issue. Rajputs have erected Maharana Pratap’s statues at schools, colleges, and even public places without facing an iota of objection.In fact, it is a long-term challenge and battling it will be a gradual process too. The changes in the social structure are bound to happen; it will take time for people to adjust to them. Repercussions of these issues, on the other hand, should be very clear to the administration, which, I believe, was lacking. In the statue case, for example, the administration should have taken measures to facilitate the move.But caste issues play up at the local thana levels also. What is being done to address it?I was sitting with the Dalits in Shabbirpur village one day when I suddenly realised that all three constables there had the surname ‘Rana’ mentioned on their nameplates. I wondered how much they would appreciate the problems of the Dalits. They are so blind towards their own caste due to the rampant indoctrination, that they often end up behaving like a private army than an arm of the state.In the last decade, efforts were made to even divide policemen along caste lines. I was shocked to learn that most politicians have gunners who share their caste and surname. This reflects on how politicised the policing in the country is. Unwittingly or not, politicians have promoted a belief that members of certain castes will have better life chances.There are no forums in UP where policemen can get a training in neutrality and professionalism. We intend to inculcate these virtues in our men.What is your understanding of Bhim Army?The Bhim Army started as a social reform organisation, which would provide education, etc. All of a sudden it has turned into a pseudo-militant organisation. This change could be attributed to the changes in the social structure. Most people these days, especially the youth, want rapid changes in the landscape; these are the ones who get attracted to radical organisations such as Bhim Army. The meteoric rise in the body’s popularity is mainly due to a large number of youth joining it and increasing its presence on the social media. Now, almost every village in western UP has a Bhim Army. One needs to understand it in terms of the social dynamics.Does it pose a threat in any way?It is too early to say so. There are a lot of conspiracy theories afloat. One is that the dominant Dalit section of the BSP is being sabotaged by other parties and they are funding them. Another theory suggests that people are conniving against the leading party to tarnish their image. Once we restore order in the area, we will investigate the matter. The investigation will have a dual approach — its presence and who are supporting it and whether its platform was misused by miscreants during the riot — was the Bhim Army instrumental in provoking people by miscommunicating facts.Prima facie, do you see a chance of Chandrashekhar’s involvement?He began this organisation a few years ago and leads it too. So, in every way, he is liable for whatever the organisation does. Even though he has been named in one of the FIRs, his active presence in the conflict could not be established.How is the situation in Shabbirpur and adjacent villages?Overtly everything is quiet. People are back to leading their normal lives. But there is an undercurrent of complete distrust towards the ‘other’ community. This is the main challenge for us now. If this distrust continues, even the slightest provocation may lead to a riot.What measure is the administration taking to work on this?Both communities feel that the police were inactive in quelling the riot. Therefore, to regain their confidence, district level officers have been changed and we (top officials) are visiting them and interacting with them too.As for the general distrust between the two communities, we are in talks with them. Peace committee meetings have been held in several villages with an aim to make the people sort out issues internally. Besides this, we have held talks at the district level with people who are active on social platforms, such as the Vyapar Mandal. They have been requested to intervene. The district administration has been advised to use social platforms to multiply efforts.
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