Bharat Bandh: Six dead as Dalit groups clash with police over SC/ST Act

Violence from across the state has led to curfew being clamped in several parts with Gwalior and Morena seeing the worst of unrest.

Bharat Bandh: Six dead as Dalit groups clash with police over SC/ST Act
People protest during 'Bharat Bandh' call given by Dalit organisations in Gaya, Bihar (PTI photo)

New Delhi: Four people died in Madhya Pradesh and one each died in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan on Monday during protests against the Supreme Court order diluting the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

The Supreme Court had on March 20, 2018, diluted certain provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, in a bid to protect 'honest' public servants discharging bona fide duties from being 'blackmailed' with false cases under the Act.

The verdict is being widely criticised by the Dalits and the Opposition who claim that the dilution of the Act will lead to more discrimination and crimes against the backward community.

While some states ordered the closure of educational institutions and curtailed communication and transport services on Monday, including rail, incidents of arson and vandalism were reported from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab, among other states.

Curfew was imposed in Morena, Gwalior and Bhind districts of Madhya Pradesh.

In Morena, Rahul Pathak was reportedly standing on the balcony of his house in an area where demonstrators clashed with police personnel. During the unrest, a bullet was fired - hitting Rahul who died en route to the hospital. 

Bhind-based Mahavir Rajawat died of gunshot wounds during the clash. Another person was shot dead during clashes in Gwalior. On the other hand, one person each is reported to have died in UP's Muzaffarnagar and Rajasthan's Alwar.

A man was videotaped brandishing a pistol and firing shots but it is not confirmed if the victim here was killed by the same person. 

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has appealed for peace, while Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government was not a party to the SC decision on the SC/ST Act and 'respectfully' did not agree with its reasoning behind the verdict.

Prasad also said the government has filed a very comprehensive review petition in the matter.

(With PTI inputs)