NEW DELHI: Amid violent protests across the country on Bharat Bandh, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said that he is deeply pained by the acts of violence and loss of lives in some parts of the country. "I am deeply pained by the acts of violence and loss of precious lives in some parts of the country today during protests in context of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act," he said.
Urging the states to maintain law and order, the Home Minister took to Twitter and said, "The Government of India has advised all states to maintain law and order and we are ready to provide assistance to any state that may require so."
He further said, "I appeal to all political parties to help in maintaining harmony among different sections of the society. I also appeal to the people, not to fall prey to rumours and false propaganda unleashed by mischievous elements."
In one of his tweets, Rajnath said, "The Government of India is committed to ensuring welfare of SC/STs and other weaker sections and also guaranteeing them full protection of law. The Government has already filed a review petition in the Supreme Court to maintain the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act in its presents form."
Five people died in Madhya Pradesh and one each died in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan 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.