Rahul Gandhi on Saturday met the victims of Saharanpur caste clashes and their family members at the district's border after authorities denied him permission to visit the violence-hit area.
Congress leader P L Punia, who accompanied Gandhi during the visit, said the party vice president promised the victims that he will work towards ensuring justice to them. "The administration tried to stop me on the UP border but I walked to Shahjahanpur Chauki, Saharanpur, where I met the families of the victims," Gandhi said in a tweet. "Today there is no place for the poor or the weak in India. The Dalits are being crushed, being pressed - not only in UP but in entire India," he added.
Gandhi also appealed to the administration to get an impartial probe done into the cases of violence and take steps for peace and brotherhood, Punia told PTI. The district administration had refused permission for a visit by Gandhi to the violence-hit zone and he was stopped at the Saharanpur border by officials in the midst of elaborate security arrangements.
Punia said Gandhi asked the district authorities about the legal provisions under which he was being denied entry into Saharanpur which has witnessed clashes between Thakurs and Dalits. He had planned to visit Shabbirpur village, where Dalit houses were torched on May 5. On being stopped by the district administration, the Congress vice president got out of his vehicle and met the victims and their families in a roadside eatery at the district's border.
"Though Rahul Gandhi asked the administration to allow him to visit the hospital to meet the victims admitted there, he was told that all of them have been discharged," Punia said, claiming that last night he had gone to a hospital from where around 23 people were discharged "abruptly". According to him, Gandhi was told about incidents of violence and how 58 houses of Dalits were set afire. The victims and their families also told Gandhi about a "meagre" compensation of Rs 5.12 lakh in total being disbursed to them so far, Punia said, claiming that those who "perpetrated" the trouble have got "handsome compensation".