Old incident of land-grabbing viral as caste violence in UP’s Gorakhpur

A video that shows a truck, loaded with men, parked at a police station is massively viral on social media. The background narration claims a group of Dalits was captured by the police after they complained of land grabbing by upper-caste ‘Kshatriya’ community in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. “They were called to the police station and thrashed by the cops and the land-grabbers who also shot at them. Three people were injured – a 12-year-old, a 15-year-old and 65-year-old elderly. When the village locals complained, the women were also beaten. The police rounded-up around 26-27 elderly and brought them to the police station,” as per the narrater.

From a Facebook page ‘Imran Bankwi’, the video (archive) has garnered over a million views and more than 70,000 shares. The accompaying caption reads, “देखिए भाजपा के उत्तर प्रदेश में कैसा रामराज है दलितों के साथ कैसा व्यहवार हो रहा है (See Ramrajya in BJP’s UP. The treatment of Dalits.)”

उत्तर प्रदेश

देखिए भाजपा के उत्तर प्रदेश में कैसा रामराज है दलितों के साथ कैसा व्यहवार हो रहा है

Posted by Imran Bankwi on Monday, 27 January 2020

The clip is also circulating on Twitter with the caption – “In UP’s Gorakhpur, upper caste people were grabbing Dalit community’s land. When Dalits objected, Gorakhpur police shot at them, thrashed them brutally and brought them to the police station like cattle. The reason for crime against Dalits in UP is chief minister Yogi.”

[Translated from #UP गोरखपुर में दलितों के जमीनों पर उंचे जाती के लोग कब्जा कर रहे थे , जब दलितों ने विरोध किया तो गोरखपुर कि पुलिस उन दलितो पर ही गोलियां चलाई, उन्हें बुरी तरह मारी , भेंड बकरियों कि तरह गाडी में भर कर थाना में लायी। UP में दलितों पर बढते अपराध का कारण मुख्यमंत्री योगी है।]

FACT-CHECK

A reverse-image search of one of the keyframes of the video led us to a May 18, 2018 report by ABP News titled, “यूपी में दलितों से ठाकुरों और पुलिस के जानवरों जैसे व्यवहार का #वायरलसच  रात 8 बजे (At 8 PM, know the viral truth behind the animal-like treatment of Dalits by police and Thakurs in UP.)”

A keyword search redirected us to the fact-check report by ABP News. According to the channel, two Dalit groups fought over a government-owned plot of land where a building was being constructed. One of the groups opposed the construction as it would occupy free space in the village used for functions such as weddings. “The villagers broke down the wall around the land. A man named Lalchand tried to grab the government-owned land and the villagers took down the wall,” said the report.

The conflict was between a group led by Lalchand and another group which opposed the construction. The police told ABP News that about 200 people came to the police station and grew violent. “The group that was constructing the building comprised of Dalits and so did the other group,” they added.

Media outlet UttarPradesh.org had also reported the incident. “An enraged crowd pelted stones at Gagaha police station after a residence was being illegally constructed on a piece of government land. Police shot rubber bullets to control the crowd. Three villagers and some policemen were reportedly injured.”

[Translated from गोरखपुर- सरकारी जमीन पर अवैध तरीके से आवास बनवाए जाने के विरोध में आक्रोशित भीड़ ने गगहा थाने पर किया पथराव, पुलिस ने भीड़ को काबू में करने के लिए चलाई रबर की गोलियां, तीन ग्रामीण सहित कुछ पुलिसकर्मियों के घायल होने की सूचना.]

The police gave similar details to the media and said that 13 people were arrested.

According to Patrika, villagers were frustrated with the police who did not pay heed to multiple complaints of illegal construction on the plot of land. On May 15, 2018, a group pelted stones at Gagaha police station when the construction finally began.

A conflict between two Dalit groups over construction on a plot of government land was revived on social media with a communal angle. The claim that upper-caste community clashed with Dalits in a Gorakhpur village is false. Moreover, the incident is nearly two years old.

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