NEW DELHI: “The BJP is trying to push India into a caste war “according to retired IPS officer S.R.Darapuri. Listing several incidents that have been reported of Karni Sena and police involvement in the firing on the Dalit processions, he told The Citizen that clearly the ruling party was trying now to consolidate the upper caste vote that was also moving away, disillusioned with the lack of development and unkept promises.

Darapuri who has become a major voice on the side of Dalit justice said that the BJP was stoking communal fires of course, but now was bent upon creating a “caste war” in the country. He said that the effort was to use the Dalit cause to create a reaction in, and consolidate the upper caste vote before the forthcoming general elections.

Worried about the violence Darapuri said that it was clear that right wing elements had infiltrated the bandh. He said that the biggest proof of this was from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh where a BJP worker who he identified as Raja Singh Rathore, had been seen as firing a gun into the crowd from the back. He said similar incidents had been reported from the other states where the Dalits were protesting against the dilution of the SC/ST Act. “How is it that all the deaths took place in BJP ruled states” Darapuri asked. He said that a total of 11 Dalits died in the violence.

Darapuri said that BJP elements also stoned the Dalit processionists in different cities. And that the police also joined in to attack the Dalits in several parts of these states. He was categorical, while citing various examples, that the BJP and RSS created violence in MP, Rajasthan, UP to give the Dalits a bad name.

He said that till now the BJP was working to create Hindu-Muslim fissures but now it had turned to creating a caste war between the Dalits and the upper castes. He said it was imperative for citizens to recognise this and ensure that their unity was not fractured.

Several Dalit leaders and organisations have said as much on the social media, maintaining that the violence on April 2 went completely against the Dalit ethos of peaceful demonstrations. The Dalits, they pointed out, are not armed and the violence also took a toll on their lives. Several videos, the authenticity of which could not be independently verified, are being shared on the social media depicting visible police bias in cracking down on the hapless Dalits in different parts of the states. In one video police officers hurl racist and caste abuse at Dalits who have been clearly rounded up, are terrified, and then are taken away by the aggressive posse of cops. In another video, police are seen going into reportedly Dalit homes and dragging out the youth.

Darapuri, a police chief himself, said that there were confirmed reports of policing firing on the Dalits with the deaths being due largely to this, as well as Karni Sena firing. It is not clear how these people are now carrying arms, whether these are licensed, and why no action is being taken against them despite the photographic proof.

There is deep worry now in the Dalit organisations with Prakash Ambedkar intensifying efforts to form a coordination committee for all future action. He had told The Citizen after the bandh that the call for an all India bandh came not from any verified source but through a message that went viral in its reach. At least 20,000 Dalit groups, big and small, joined the bandh without any one being able to find out who exactly had sent out the first message. This, he said, was in itself problematic and hence it was necessary for all Dalit groups to come together under a coordination umbrella.

The police is currently carrying out raids in all these states, and largely rounding up Dalits. At least 5000 persons have been booked for the Bharat bandh violence.