Some elements belonging to the Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress are playing a key role in supporting the “Bhim Army”, which according to Uttar Pradesh police, was instrumental in instigating and spreading caste violence in Saharanpur.

Official sources, who were in the midst of the Saharanpur episode, which had led to questions being raised against the newly elected Yogi Adityanath government, said that there was no truth behind certain media reports that BSP supremo Mayawati was behind the Bhim Army. According to them, a few members from her party and from the Congress were independently supporting Chandrashekhar, the self styled “supremo” of Bhim Army. Chandrashekhar was arrested from Himachal Pradesh earlier in the week by the UP police.

The officials said that a deliberate attempt was being made to paint a picture that the Dalits had become unsafe in the state and that this was part of a larger effort to spread violence in the state, where caste divide among various communities is very deep.

“Former BSP MLC Md Iqbal, who is the biggest mining baron of Western Uttar Pradesh, former BSP MLA Ravinder Kumar Molhu, former Union minister Qazi Rashid Masood and Congress leader Imran Masood are supporting the Bhim Army. They were in touch with Chandrashekhar who had gone underground after the Saharanpur violence. The funding of this ‘army’, the logistical support, the rally that it organised in New Delhi on 21 May, had the support of some leaders. We have arrested at least 42 of Bhim Army’s cadre until now for either instigating violence through social media, or for throwing stones at us or for being involved in burning down the vehicles of journalists and the administration last month. All these arrests have been made on the basis of concrete proof (videos, photographs),” said a senior UP government officer who has been monitoring the Bhim Army.

According to officials, they have sufficient evidence to prove that the Saharanpur violence was allowed to become bigger deliberately with the help of the Bhim Army. “Mayawati will not support someone like Chandrashekar as he might usurp her position as the tallest Dalit leader in the state. However, some of the BSP leaders and the Congress leader want to consolidate the DM (Dalit-Muslim) votes and hence are instigating violence on caste lines in areas where the Dalits are numerically stronger, especially in Western UP. The violent approach of this ‘army’ does not bode well for the state, as it will lead to reaction from the other castes,” the official stated. Md Iqbal had hit the headlines last year after the Supreme Court directed an inquiry against him for allegedly amassing an unaccounted wealth of Rs 10,000 crore.