Authorities suspended internet services and increased security in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, after unidentified assailants shot dead the brother of a Bhim Army leader on Wednesday afternoon, the Hindustan Times reported. The supporters of the Dalit outfit have blamed the Rajput community for the death of 24-year-old Sachin Walia, the brother of district president Kamal Walia.
The incident took place in Ramnagar near the venue of a function to mark the birth anniversary of 16th-century Rajput king Maharana Pratap. Police have filed a murder case against four people, and also booked them under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
One of the suspects is Sher Singh Rana, president of the Rajput Mahasabha and an accused in the Phoolan Devi murder case. “The incident is being investigated from all possible angles,” said Babloo Kumar, senior superintendent of police of Saharanpur.
Violent clashes between the two groups had taken place in Saharanpur last May as well.
Bhim Army activist Robin Gautam told the Hindustan Times that despite their objections, the district administration had allowed the Rajput community to hold Maharana Pratap Jayanti celebrations close to a Dalit locality. He claimed that Rana had threatened Kamal Walia in a video two days earlier.
Saharanpur District Magistrate PK Pandey ordered the suspension of internet services to stop the spread of rumours.
Amnesty International India has demanded an investigation into the killing. “The Uttar Pradesh government must investigate whether Sachin Walia was killed in a hate crime,” Asmita Basu, Programmes Director, Amnesty International India, said in a statement, according to PTI.