New Delhi, Apr 2: Dalit organisations are observing a nationwide shutdown – Bharat Bandh – today against the Supreme Court’s verdict on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. There is a complete shutdown in Punjab following the call of Bharat Bandh as all public and private transport and internet services have been suspended. Protesters disrupted rail traffic in Odisha’s Sambalpur, Punjab’s Patiala and Bihar’s Arrah. Zee News is hosting live streaming of the Bharat Bandh and its impact. Watch live coverage of Bharat Bandh on Zee News in Hindi here.
During the Bharat Bandh, violent protests erupted in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Protesters reportedly damaged public and private properties by pelting stones in Meerut and Agra. In Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind, members of Bhim Sena and Bajrang Dal clashed with each other. The major impact of the Bharat Bandh was being seen in Punjab. Additional forces have been deployed in the state to maintain law and order. The state has the highest concentration of scheduled castes among states. They constitute nearly 32 percent of the state’s 2.8 crore population.
In wake of the Bharat Bandh call, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) postponed exams of class 10 and 12 students scheduled for April 2 in Punjab. On March 20, the Supreme Court, in a bid to check misuse of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, ruled that preliminary enquiry in a case under the Act would be done by the DSP to ensure the allegations are not frivolous, and to avoid the false implication of an innocent. The apex court also held that a government official cannot be prosecuted on a mere allegation of committing an offence under the Act without the sanction of the appointing authority.