New Delhi, Apr 2: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday appealed Dalit groups and political parties to maintain peace as Bharat Bandh called against Supreme Court’s decision on SC/ST Protection Act turned violent across states. Rajnath Singh told reporters that the Modi government has filed a review petition in the apex court to reconsider its decision.
“We have filed the review petition in Supreme Court. I appeal to all political parties and groups to maintain peace and not incite violence,” Rajnath Singh said amid reports of large scale violence in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and other states.
Bharat Bandh Latest Updates
Man killed in Firing
In Madhya Pradesh’s Morena, a youth was killed in firing during protests. It was not clear whether the man, identified as Rahul Pathak, was killed in firing by the police which was tryinh to control a violent mob.
Rail Services Badly Hit, Vehicles Torched
Reports of protesters blocking rail routes and burning down vehicles were received from several states. In Rajasthan, Delhi-Jaipur rail route was blocked by hundreds of people. The angry mob also pelted stones on Delhi-Ajmer Shatabdi Express which was stopped Khairtal station near Alwar. Similarly, Jaipur-Delhi double decker train was delayed for hours as the railway track was seiged by the agitators.
In Bihar, protesters and supporters of Bhim Army stopped trains at several places in Darbhanga, Gaya, Patna, Ara, Bhagalpur and Nalanda.
Protests also turned violent in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut where several cars were damaged during Bharat Bandh. News channels showed several vehicles with smashed windscreens.
In Rajasthan’s Barmer, cars were torched and property worth crores were vandalised by angry mob.
Hundreds of protesters carrying swords, sticks, baseball bats and flags forced shopkeepers and other establishments in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda to shut down.
According to reports, some protesters tried to stop a train in Amritsar district earlier on Monday morning but relented following talks with railway officials.
Demonstrators also entered the Jalandhar Cantt railway station, shouting slogans and burnt effigies on the tracks.
Some highways and roads were also blocked. Traffic in and around Chandigarh was severely affected. The final practical examinations of Class 10 and 12 of Punjab School Education Board, which were scheduled to be held on Monday, will now be held on April 11.
Hundreds holding blue-coloured Bhim Army flags also gathered in central Delhi’s Mandi House in protest against what they described as dilution of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act following a Supreme Court order.
What Supreme Court Said in Its Verdict
The Supreme Court 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 bona fide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Act.
The top 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.
(With inputs from agencies)