New Delhi, April 3: A nationwide shutdown by various Dalit organisations called against Supreme Court’s order on SC/ST ActAtrocities) Act 1989 swept north Indian states on Monday. The protests turned violent as at least ten people lost their lives after agitators resorted to stone pelting, damaging properties across the country. Also Read - Bharat Bandh: Indigo Crew Pulls Luggage For 2KM Through Farm Fields in Punjab | Video Goes Viral
In a bid to control the situation, the central government rushed approx 1700 anti-riot policemen to violence-hit Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. A Home Ministry official in Delhi said two companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) were sent to Meerut and one company each to Agra and Hapur in Uttar Pradesh. (Also Read: Bharat Bandh: Rajnath Appeals Dalit Groups For Peace as Violence Spreads Across States) Also Read - ‘Absolutely Critical’: Opposition Members Meet President Kovind, Urge Him to Repeal Farms Laws
Clashes turned deadly in Madhya Pradesh Also Read - Farmers Protest in Delhi: Amit Shah Meets Tomar After Farmers Reject Centre's Draft Proposal
In Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior, Morena and Bhind total six people were reported killed during the violent agitation. A student leader identified as Rahul Pathak and five others died in firing. Pathak was allegedly shot during protests by agitators and he succumbed to injuries en route to hospital, Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Umesh Shukla told reporters. Several policemen were also wounded. Ar,y was also called into Bhind to control the situation. However in Gwalior, prohibitory orders restricting large gatherings were imposed as protesters blocked railway tracks and set ablaze to vehicles. (Bharat Bandh Live News And Updates)
Violence intensifies in Uttar Pradesh
In Uttar Pradesh, two protesters were killed in Muzaffarnagar district. A new born baby who was on his way to Sadar hospital from Mehnar PHC in Hajipur also lost his life due to the ongoing protest across the country. Reports claimed that the ambulance of the child got stuck in a jam due to the bharat bandh, following which he could not survive and died before reaching Sadar hospital.
Schools to remain Shut in several cities
All schools in Meerut, Ghaziabad, Agra and Hapur district from class 1 to class 12, except those conducting board examinations to remain shut tomorrow in lieu of protests over SC/ST protection act today, reported ANI.
Rajasthan on boil
In Rajasthan’s Alwar district a person identified as Pawan Kumar was also killed in firing. Speaking to reporters, Rajasthan’s DGP said,”One person has died in firing in Alwar. There was stone pelting in several places. Number of people have been detained across all districts in the state. Internet services were suspended and section 144 was imposed in certain districts.” Clashes were also reported from a few other towns, including capital Jaipur and Barmer.
Widespread protests in Punjab and Haryana:
Shops, educational institutions and other establishments remained closed and Class 10 and 12 examinations were deferred in Punjab, which has the highest concentration of Scheduled Castes, constituting nearly 32 per cent its 2.8 crore population. Hundreds of protesters carrying swords, sticks, baseball bats and flags forced shopkeepers and other establishments in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda too shut down. Protests also took place in Rohtak and other towns of neighbouring Haryana.
Violence spread to Bihar and Jharkhand:
In Bihar, activists disrupted rail and road traffic. Mobs shut down markets and shops as well as educational institutions, police said. Supporters of the Bhim Army and other Dalit outfits halted over three dozen long-distance and local trains, stranding thousands of passengers. Violence was reported from Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Nawada, Patna and Bhagalpur when protestors clashed with police. In Jharkhand’s Ranchi, 763 people detained and 850 in east Singhbhum district during Bharat Bandh protests.
Jet Airways waives off penalties
Jet Airways on waived off penalties in the view of the Dalit protests across India. Taking to Twitter, the airline posted,”Due to unrest in Chandigarh, Patna & Amritsar, we are waiving off penalties for date/ flight change, refund, no-show & fare difference (if any) on all confirmed tickets for flights to/out of these cities for travel on April 02, 2018.”
Mayawati backs the protest:
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati extended her party’s support to the protests saying,”I support the protest against the SC/ST Act. I have got to know that some people spread violence during the protests, I strongly condemn it. Our party is not behind the violence during the protests.” However, she assured strict action against those who spread violence during the protests.
Centre’s review petition
Amid widespread anger and violence, the Modi government filed a review petition in the Supreme Court to seek recall of its judgment that ruled that there would be no automatic arrest of an accused following a complaint moved under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
The Supreme Court had on March 20 diluted certain provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (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 verdict is being widely criticised by the Dalits and the Opposition who claim that the dilution of the Act will lead to more discrimination and crimes against the backward community.
(With agency inputs)