Bharat Bandh: Dalit anger over SC verdict on SC/ST Act singes India

At least nine persons were killed and hundreds injured on Monday in violence across several states during a nationwide bandh called by Dalit groups.

Bharat Bandh: Dalit anger over SC verdict on SC/ST Act singes India
Members of Dalit community and Bhim Sena stage protest during 'Bharat Bandh' against SC's oder over ST/SC Act in Jodhpur on April 2, 2018 (Pic courtesy: PTI)
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New Delhi: Large parts of the country bore the brunt of Dalit anger during the day-long Bharat Bandh on Monday as mobs of youngsters took to the streets in several states to protest against the recent Supreme Court verdict diluting the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Violence was reported from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and a few other states as Dalit groups and security personnel clashed resulting in death and destruction.

At least nine people were killed in violent protest with the maximum deaths taking place in Madhya Pradesh. While at least six people died in Madhya Pradesh, two persons died in Uttar Pradesh and one in Rajasthan. In Bihar's Vaishali district a small boy reportedly died after the ambulance in which he was being taken to a hospital was stopped by the protesters. 

Public and private property was set on fire and destroyed at several places during the protests. Hundreds of trains were stopped for several hours as protesters blocked trains, clashed with police and set fire to private and public properties, including police posts. 

In UP nearly 75 persons including 40 policemen were injured in violent protests in various parts of the state. Police have detained nearly 450 people there, as per reports. Thousands were also arrested across Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha, while the impact was minimal in West Bengal.

Several Dalit groups including the Peasants and Workers Party, the Prakash Ambedkar-led Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, the Jati Aant Sangharsh Samiti, the Rashtriya Seva Dal, and National Dalit Movement for Justice, among others had given the call for Bharat Bandh to protest against the March 20 verdict of the apex court banning automatic arrests and registration of criminal cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

While giving its ruling the apex court had observed that no arrest can be made under the Act without prior permission and the accused can secure an anticipatory bail from the court if the judge finds the complaint is an abuse of the law, false, motivated and intended to blackmail or harass a person. This was necessary, the court had said, to prevent the rampant misuse of the tough provisions of the law.

The verdict had resulted in loud protests by several political parties and Dalit organisations. The protesters alleged that the Supreme Court ruling will result in dilution of the Act which came into being in 1989.

Sensing the widespread anger against the ruling, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government on Monday filed a review petition in the apex court arguing that the court order will weaken the provisions of the Act.

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