The Uttar Pradesh Police on Friday arrested Bahujan Samaj Party’s Muzaffarnagar district president Kamal Gautam and former Hapur MLA Dharmpal Singh’s son Manish for their alleged role in the violence that broke out during the Dalit protest on April 2, PTI reported. The arrests were made on Thursday, days after they arrested the party’s Hastinapur MLA Yogesh Verma in Meerut.
Multiple Dalit organisations called for a nationwide shutdown on April 2 to protest against a Supreme Court judgement that protects a public servant from being arrested under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act without a preliminary inquiry. At least nine people died in the protests.
Senior Superintendent of Police Anant Dev Tiwari told the news agency that Gautam was accused of allegedly inciting a mob of protesters to commit violent acts. Gautam has been sent to judicial custody till April 20, senior prosecutor Diwakar Sharma said.
The Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of wrongly targeting them with false cases, The police, however, said the arrests were based on evidence. “The initial probe showed call records, video and pictures substantiated that the BSP leaders had a role to play in inciting the protesters,” Tiwari told The Hindu.
Samajwadi Party’s Meerut chief Rajpal Singh told the newspaper that the BJP was trying to “harass and play vindictive politics after Bahujan Samaj Party defeated the BJP in the local body elections in the city”.
The police said they are also investigating the alleged role of Mayor Sunita Verma and her husband in the violence. Verma said they were being wrongly accused.