The Uttar Pradesh police arrested Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) Muzaffarnagar district President on charges of inciting violence during the Bharat Bandh called by Dalit groups on Monday (2nd April). The leader named Kamal Gautam was arrested on Friday night and has seen over a dozen cases getting registered against him by the police.
As per Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Anant Dev, Gautam provided liquor for thousands of party workers who after getting drunk were incited to turn violent and damage properties. They as a result forcefully shut shops and created a ruckus. He has also been charged with violating section 144.
Following his arrest, Gautam was produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate following which he has been sent to judicial custody till 20th April. Besides Gautam, the police have arrested more than 12 people for the agitation in Muzaffarnagar. In total, an excess of 40 cases has been registered against various protesters with about 85 getting arrested for the same.
This arrest comes a few days after former BSP MLA Yogesh Verma was arrested by the police from Meerut, for allegedly being the main conspirator of the violence in the city, where more than 200 violent protesters attacked the district collectorate and vandalised office buildings. Police had to initiate lathi charge to curb the violence.
In light of the arrest of two BSP leaders, questions might be raised over the inability of BSP supremo Mayawati to rein in her party leaders. It might also lead to the speculation of the party possibly playing a proactive role in the violent protests, especially considering that the party extended support to the Bharat Bandh protesters.
During the nationwide Bharat Bandh, about nine people died in the mass violence perpetrated to protest against the Supreme Court’s directives to prevent the misuse of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.