Chandigarh, Apr 2: To protest against the Supreme Court verdict on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Dalit outfits will observe a countrywide shutdown – Bharat Bandh – today, April 2. The impact of Bharat Bandh is expected to disrupt normal life in Punjab which has the highest population of Scheduled Castes (SC) among states. Following the call of Bharat Bandh, transport and internet services will remain suspended in Punjab. We will be giving you live updates on Bharat Bandh and its possible impact in Punjab, Maharashtra and other parts of the country. (ALSO READ: Bharat Bandh Call in Punjab: Here Are The Services That Will Shut)
During the Bharat Bandh protest, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), Punjab Roadways and PunBus, as well as buses run by private operators, would not ply on the roads in the state. The state government, led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, has ordered the closure of all educational institutions on Monday. To maintain law and order, four battalions of the Rapid Action Force, four of Border Security Force, along with 12,000 additional police personnel have been deployed.
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. Initially, the Bharat Bandh call was given by Dalit group Sanvidhaan Bachao Sangharash Committee and later was backed by All India Adi Dharam Mission and All India Adi Dharam Sadhu Samaj. Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh on Sunday assured that the state police and Magistrates are on full alert to deal with any unwarranted situation.
“We have received that there are likely to be widespread agitation and possible roadblocks in certain parts of Punjab. The state police and Magistrates are on full alert. I request the Army authorities in the state of Punjab may be asked to remain ready for any eventuality, since the State Government/District Magistrates may need their assistance for maintaining law and order on April 2,” the Punjab government said in a press release.
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.