NEW DELHI: A shoemaker in Mayur Vihar Phase I has alleged that a local resident has been harassing him to change the name on the board at his roadside stall. Ram Avtar Verma, a native of Rajasthan, claimed that he was being forced to give up the Verma surname and replace it with a caste name for leather workers that is often used as a slur. Verma, who plans to approach police to register a case, claims he has been harassed for some months now. The individual accused by the cobbler has denied the charges and, in turn, alleged a political conspiracy against him. A father of six, Verma reopened his stall near Ahlcon Public School in Mayur Vihar after the pandemic. He charged a resident who lives in the complex opposite his stall with questioning him for having the same surname as he did. “I had written my name and phone number on a board at my stall for better customer reach,” said Verma, who is in his late 40s.Verma has identity documents showing he has always used the surname. “The resident asked me how I was using the Verma surname and threatened to close my stall if I did not erase it from the board,” claimed the cobbler. “I got scared and covered the surname with a piece of paper.”Verma alleges that the harassment did not stop there. “When it rained and the paper I had stuck over the name peeled off, the man began threatening me again, forcing me to add the outdated caste name. I may be poor, but I cannot use that word on my board,” he said. Overcoming his and his family’s fear, Verma has now decided to go to the cops with his plaint.Meanwhile, the resident denied Verma’s allegations. He told TOI, “I have never met the shoemaker or even talked to him.” The 70-year-old added, “A political lobby has a vested interest in targeting me after our residents’ welfare association filed a PIL to remove food sellers operating close to the school.” As per National Crime Records Bureau data, cases of atrocities against SC and ST communities have increased. In 2021, the year for which the last NCRB data is available, five ST/SC related cases were reported in the city, when in 2020 and 2019, only one case each had been registered.