New Delhi [India], Apr. 2 (ANi): The central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to protecting the rights of Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC), Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawarchand Gehlot said on Monday.

The minister in the wake of protests and strike across the country against the Supreme Court’s decision to amend the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, said his government was not only committed to protecting the rights given to SC/STs but going a step ahead in improving their lives.

At least four people have been killed due to violent protests across the country. Shops and other businesses also remain closed due to the strike.

“For years, they have been used as mere vote banks to form governments. We are empowering backward castes as nation builders to create a new India,” the minister tweeted.

He said previous governments did not put trust on people of backward castes when it came to lending and that with initiatives such as Stand Up India and Mudra the people of backward castes were being empowered to become entrepreneurs.

“It has been our government which further strengthened the protection for backward castes by passing the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015,” Gehlot said.

His statement comes as people belonging to backward classes have been protesting against the March 20 amendment that protects public servants and private individuals from arbitrary and immediate arrest under the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The court in a slew of guidelines also said there was no complete bar on granting of anticipatory bail if there was no prima facie case.

The central government on Monday filed a review petition before the Supreme Court, challenging its order regarding alleged harassment of SCs and STs.

The minister had earlier appealed organisations and individuals opposing the verdict to withdraw their protests. (ANI)

This is published unedited from the ANI feed.