Five Years After Saharanpur Violence, Ambedkar’s Statue Awaits Light of Day (Outlook India)

Shabbirpur, where conflict between Dalits and Thakurs snowballed into full scale violence across Saharanpur, remains on edge on Ambedkar Jayanti days ahead of Lok Sabha elections 2024.

Statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar which is brought out only on Ambedkar Jayanti and Ravidas Jayanti.

By Rakhi Bose

Hidden behind a blue door inside a deserted school in Shabbirpur village, a statue of BR Ambedkar has been waiting to see the light of day for five years now. Days before the first phase of Lok Sabha elections 2024 in Uttar Pradesh, residents of the Jatav community, a Scheduled Caste (SC), of Shabbirpur in Saharanpur district, about 150 kilometres from Delhi, remain tense. Five years ago, violence consumed the village following a conflict between Jatavs and the dominant Thakurs after the latter objected to a statue of Ambedkar being erected within the premises of Ravidas temple.  

The incident snowballed on May 5, when a procession in honour of Maharana Pratap entered the colony, reportedly unauthorised. The clashes left one Thakur boy from the village dead. Over the next month violence and clashes between the two groups continued. Over 25 homes and property of Dalits were torched and reduced to cinders. 

Five years after the violence, dubbed the “Saharanpur riots” of 2017, attempts have been made from both sides to reconcile. Beneath the veneer, however, fault-lines run deep. “We have not been able to put up the statue of Ambedkar even now,” says Paltu Ram, resident and member of Ambedkar Samaj Samiti, a local body formed for the welfare of the Dalit community in the area following the violence. The committee meetings are held in the very school that houses the Ambedkar statue, built by, Chandrashekhar Azad “Ravan”-led Bhim Army, on the premises of the Ravidas temple after it was vandalised in 2017. It is not active anymore. “Many people came and made promises at the time. But no one helped us in the long run,” says 66—year-old Ramvati. Her son Sonu had been accused of the murder of the Rajput boy in 2017. She claims that Sonu was at home when the police came and picked him up at night. “He was not involved in the violence. Police arrested Dalit men from the village arbitrarily,” she states.

This story was originally published in Read the full story here.

Related Articles