13 June, 2021

Knifing Rampur

Eye on 2014, the SP government is playing up a Dalit-Muslim divide

Tribhuvan Tiwari
Knifing Rampur

Rampur, the western Uttar Pradesh town famed inter alia for its knives, is under threat from an equally vicious and cynical politics that is sundering the easy relationship between its Muslims and Dalits. This is worrying because, over the past few months, Dalit-Muslim clashes have broken out in other western-belt towns like Dasna, Sambhal, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Muzaff­ar­na­gar, Gautam Budh Nagar and Ghaz­iabad. Towns in other regions, such as Pratapgarh, Bhadohi and Gorakhpur, have also seen Dalit-Muslim confrontations over local issues. Observers say the ruling Samajwadi Party is encouraging the antipathy: a united Dalit-Muslim vote-bloc could favour the rival BSP in the 2014 general elections, especially in the western belt, with a strong Muslim presence, where it has traditionally had a good showing. Regional, caste-based parties like the Samajwadi Party and the BSP are in keen competition for the leverage that will serve them during government formation at the centre.

This ruthless manoeuvring of ident­ity-based alignments has been on in the...

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