Phagwara, Mar 28 (PTI) Parminder Bhullarai is unhappy with the move to dilute the stringent provisions of a law dealing with cases of atrocities against Dalits. And he has found a novel – but striking – way to show his disapproval.

Near the main bus stand on the busy National Highway 1 in Punjab’s Phagwara city last evening, Bhullarai took off his shirt, placed his shoes on his head and stood alone in protest.

His action drew the attention of everyone passing through the area, especially thousands of bus passengers.

The lone protester also displayed a banner that read scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and religious minorities were not safe in India.

He told reporters that he had to resort to this distinct way of protest to draw public attention to the issue of the Act’s dilution, which, he added, will increase atrocities against Dalits.

The Supreme Court in an order on March 20 diluted the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, in a bid to protect honest public servants discharging bonafide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Act.

The court said government servants should not be arrested without prior sanction and private citizens too should be arrested only after an inquiry under the law.

But Dalit organisations, including the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch, and opposition political parties fear the dilution of the provisions might lead to increase in violence against Dalits. They have urged the Union government to seek an immediate review of the Supreme Court judgement.

Calling the Modi government “anti-Dalit”, Bhullarai also alleged that ever since it took over the reigns at the Centre in 2014, the situation in the country has been getting vitiated.

“Cow vigilantes are killing people in the name of cow protection and Hindu nationalists are beating people under the garb of (patriotism),” he said.

He accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of intentionally not seeking a review of the Supreme Court order.

Surinder Dhanda, president of Ambedkar Sena (Punjab), came out in support of Bhullarai at the protest venue. Though he did not remove his shirt, he displayed a banner against the BJP-led Union government and demanded its removal. PTI cor VSD ABH ABH

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.