IPS officers working in Uttar Pradesh are dejected over the suspension of the SSP of Saharanpur without, what they believe, proper assessment of the facts by the state government.

The Yogi Adityanath government, on 24 May, suspended Saharanpur Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Subhash Chandra Dubey and District Magistrate (DM) N.P. Singh for “failing to control the situation in Saharanpur”, following last month’s violence. Multiple senior police officials who spoke to The Sunday Guardian off the record stated that the suspension of Dubey, a 2005 batch IPS officer, was “very unfortunate” and “demoralising” as he was considered to be an upright and honest police officer, who did not shy away from taking action against even the relatives of senior UP bureaucrats. “Dubey joined the district on 29 April. The tension in Saharanpur was brewing from much earlier. It is a matter of documented record that he was instrumental in controlling the situation to a large extent and he even went after the Deoband BJP MLA Brijesh Singh and did not follow his orders to take action against one particular community. It was Dubey who visited 75 villages in and around Saharanpur between 2 May and 23 May and met the villagers personally so that incidences of caste or communal violence were contained. His only fault is that unlike some other officers, who do not venture out of the district headquarters but have excellent media management skills, he rarely sits in his office,” said a Lucknow based senior police officer.

According to officials, the tension between the Dalits, Muslims and Thakurs was simmering in Saharanpur since 20 April after the Dalits were not allowed to take out a procession in the name of Bhim Rao Ambedkar. Another dispute took place on 5 May when the Thakur youths and Dalit youths clashed over a procession being taken out by the former, in which the DJ was playing songs while passing through a Dalit dominated area.  During this, due to stone pelting by the Dalit youths, one Thakur youth died. Rumour spread that Thakurs were killed in firing by the Dalits; the Thakurs retaliated by burning the properties of the Dalits.

“The SSP got this news at 11.30 and by 12.15 he had reached the spot and without firing a single shot, he was able to disperse a 1,000 strong crowd adamant on killing each other. In a matter of hours, adequate force was deployed in the neighbouring villages so that the violence did not spread and it was he who made sure that the cremation of the youth was done on the same day so that the body was not used for instigating further violence. The next day, 10 youths belonging to the Thakur community and seven Dalit youths  were arrested for stone pelting despite political pressure from both sides,” recalled a senior official posted at the police headquarters in Lucknow.

According to another police officer, who is presently posted in Saharanpur, the district police got information on the morning of 8 May that the Bhim Army was forwarding messages on social media and WhatsApp that “Saharanpur will be burnt” on 9 May. Following this, Dubey instructed his officers to close the district borders as the information also stated that Dalits from the nearby districts would also be entering Saharanpur.

“After they (Dalits) were stopped at the border, they went to other Dalit majority villages, including Chuttmalpur, which is the native village of Chandrashekhar, Bhim Army’s leader. Later, they started demonstrating at five points in and around Saharanpur and started pelting stones at us after deploying women and children in the front, so that we could not disperse them through lathicharge. When they saw the press arriving, the protesters burnt government vehicles, including the bikes of 10 journalists. By that time we had applied pressure on Chandrashekhar and forced him to stand down. He soon went underground. The next day, Dubey registered 25 cases and arrested 42 people who were caught pelting stones, instigating violence through social media and whose pictures, while they were pelting stones, were clicked by the local press. We were again able to contain the violence without firing a single shot,” the officer said. Officials said Dubey had always been at the cross hairs of the bureaucracy, which filed adverse reports against him, which led CM Yogi Adityanath to take action against him. “When he was the SP of Kanpur, he arrested the director of Uttar Pradesh Secondary Education Board over the Teachers Eligibility Test scam. The director was the relative of a senior bureaucrat, and despite pressure from the bureaucrat, Dubey did not go slow, due to which the director was in prison for over two years. Since then, Dubey has been the object of the bureaucrats’ displeasure,” a person close to him said. Attempts to contact Dubey, now under suspension, proved futile.