BHOPAL: Elaborate security arrangements have been made and a high alert has been sounded by the authorities across the state of Madhya Pradesh in view of the 'Bharat Bandh' called by nearly 35 outfits linked to the upper caste on Thursday to protest against the amendment to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Ahead of the ‘Bharat Bandh,' the police have beefed up security across the state and prohibitory orders have been imposed under Section 144 in sensitive areas.
“Through the social media and pamphlets, we came to know that some organisations are planning a Bharat Bandh against the amendments in the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, following which the security has been beefed up in the state,” Makrand Deuskar, Inspector General of Police (Intelligence) said.
Following the shutdown call, the authorities have imposed Section 144 in Satna, Bhind, Shivpuri, Gwalior and other districts of MP.
Deuskar said orders prohibiting the gathering of people in large numbers have been imposed.
"The administration in most of the districts have clamped prohibitive orders under CrPC section 144 in view of the bandh on September 6," Deuskar said.
Thirty-four companies of the special armed force of police have been deployed in various districts, he said.
Jabalpur district collector Chhavi Bharadwaj has written to the state home department, seeking suspension of Internet services in the district till 6 pm on Thursday.
District Education Officer in Bhind has ordered that schools in the district will remain closed.
Anticipating more protests during 'Bharat Bandh', Madhya Pradesh ministers including Yashodhara Raje Scindia, Lalita Yadav, Narayan Singh Kushwaha and many others have cancelled their public functions on Thursday.
A large posse of policemen has been deployed in the Gwalior-Chambal region, which witnessed large-scale violence on April 2 during the ‘bharat bandh’ called by scheduled caste groups in which four people were killed.
The police fear that members of the Schedule Castes may come out to streets to counter the protests by the upper castes.
Meanwhile, school holiday has been declared in one district and petrol pumps across the state will remain closed on Thursday in view of 'Bharat Bandh'.
All schools and colleges in Gwalior will remain closed on Thursday in the view of 'Bharat Bandh' called against amendments of SC/ST Act on September 6, reported ANI.
"We have decided to shut petrol pumps from 10 AM to 2 PM on Thursday due to security reasons as some organizations have given a call for Bharat Bandh," Madhya Pradesh Petrol Pump Owners Association president Ajay Singh said.
Meanwhile, protests against the amendment to the SC/ST Act were held in the state on Wednesday.
Protesters showed black flags to former Union minister and senior BJP leader Prahlad Patel at Tikamgarh when he was addressing the party's OBC workers.
Slogans were shouted by protesters outside the venue of BJP's OBC cell's meeting in Gwalior.
After the Supreme Court diluted the provision of mandatory arrests under the SC/ST Act, sparking protests by Dalit organisations, the Union government brought an amendment in the Monsoon Session of Parliament to override the apex court's order.
Brahma Samagam Sawarna Jankalyan Sangathan's national president Dharmendra Sharma said about 150 organisations of upper castes and OBCs would participate in the 'Bharat Bandh' against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act.
The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018 was passed in the Lok Sabha on August 6.
The Congress later alleged that the Centre has now passed the Bill in order to lure voters of the SC/ST community ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and Assembly elections in three states.
(With PTI Inputs)