Ahmedabad, Apr 2 (PTI) Major towns and cities of Gujarat today witnessed protests by Dalits against the “dilution” of the SC/ST Act even as civic-run transport services in the city were halted after some of the buses were targeted by agitators, said officials.
Cases of vandalism were reported from Jamnagar during the protests held as part of a nationwide bandh called by Dalit organisations against “dilution” of the act following a Supreme Court ruling.
After getting reports of roadblocks and attacks on some BRTS (bus rapid transit system) buses in the city’s eastern part, the Ahmedabad civic body halted its services on some of the routes, Municipal Commissioner Mukesh Kumar said.
“Some of the BRTS buses were targeted by protesters following which we discontinued our services on some of the routes.
“Operation of buses on some of the routes of AMTS (Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service) was also suspended,” he said.
Dalit protesters took to streets in several parts of the city such as Dani Limda, Naroda, Bapunagar, Kalupur and Amraiwadi, among others.
According to Rahul Parmar of the Dalit Panther, several roads were blocked in these areas, while shops were asked to down shutters by the protesters.
According to in-charge city Police Commissioner K L N Rao, adequate police personnel were deployed across the city to deal with any law and order problem arising out of the protests.
“The situation is under control. We have deployed adequate force to deal with any unwarranted situation. Police have been regularly patrolling in the city,” said Rao.
In state capital, Gandhinagar, Dalit protesters held a rally near the main bus station.
In Rajkot, agitators tried to enforce the pan-India shutdown by asking shopkeepers to close their establishments in several parts of the city, an official said.
Several Dalit activists and Congress workers symbolically burnt copies of the Supreme Court order related to the act at Trikon Baug in Rajkot, the official said.
Some protesters entered into a mall on Kalavad Road in Rajkot and forced the management to shutdown the complex, the official added.
Similar agitations were held in Surendranagar, Kutch Jamnagar, Mehsana and other parts of Gujarat.
In Jamnagar city, a mob tore posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi put up inside a bus depot. The mob also vandalised several shops in and around the depot, the official said.
In Jamnagar and Surendranagar, a large number of Dalit agitators squatted on railway tracks, forcing trains to stop for sometime, said police control room officials of both the districts.
Normal life was affected in many other cities as protesters either disrupted road traffic or tried to close main markets, the official said.
The bandh has been called by several Dalit outfits to express concerns over the “dilution” of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The apex court in a March 20 order had said government servants should not be arrested without prior sanction and private citizens, too, should be arrested only after an inquiry under the law.
These outfits and some political parties fear the “dilution” of the provisions might lead to an increase in violence against Dalits.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.