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Bharat Bandh: 9 dead, thousands arrested, 1,700 anti-riot personnel at work

In the wake of nationwide bandh against dilution of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Protection Act, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has appealed all political parties and groups to maintain peace

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

A tractor set on fire by a group of protesters during 'Bharat Bandh' call given by Dalit organisations against the alleged dilution of Scheduled Castes / Scheduled Tribes Act, in Meerut (Photo: PTI)

Nine people were killed on Monday in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan as dalit outfits turned violent in several parts of the country due to outrage over a Supreme Court ruling on atrocities against dalits. waives off the penalties for date or flight change on all confirmed tickets amid the violent protests across the nation.

"We are closely monitoring the situation in the wake of protests," a spokesperson of Home Ministry said.

In an official statement, DIG, Law & Order, Uttar Pradesh said, "There'll be an inquiry on people spreading rumors on Social Media. Detained 448 people for legal action."

The government on Monday filed a review petition on the Supreme Court judgment on the SC/ST Act. However, Supreme Court declined an urgent hearing on a plea which sought a stay and review of its recent verdict on SC/ST Act.

In response to the ongoing nationwide protest called by several Dalit organisations, BSP Chief Mayawati said, "Anti-social elements were sent to cause violence during the protests resulting in death of some people and damage to public property"

"One can understand if people protest, but why is Opposition (Congress) playing politics? Parties like Congress who did not give Bharat Ratna to BR Ambedkar, and are now acting like his followers," said Ramvilas Paswan.

Visuals from protests in Gwalior showed shots being fired during the protests, news agency ANI reported.

Nineteen people were on Monday injured in Gwalior. Of them, two were said to be in a critical condition, news agency ANI reported. Further, internet service has been blocked in Gwalior district till 6:00 am tomorrow.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh appealed to all political parties and groups to maintain peace and shun violence. Informing that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court for reconsidering the verdict on the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) Protection Act, he urged the protesters on Monday to refrain from imposing blockades and committing violent acts.

On March 20, the apex court, in a bid to check misuse of the SC/ST Act, ruled 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. It also ruled that a preliminary enquiry in a case under the Atrocities Act would be done by the Deputy Superintendent of Police to ensure the allegations are not frivolous, and to avoid the false implication of an innocent.

The Bharat bandh has already brought Punjab to a standstill, as CBSE has postponed the board exams scheduled for April 2, and transport services have been suspended. The Centre is likely to tell the apex court that dilution of the Act will render it ineffective and prevent the dispensing of justice to the marginalised Dalit and tribal communities. All schools from class 1 to class 12, except those conducting board examinations to remain shut on Tuesday in Agra due to the violent protest in the city.

Here are the top developments around the so-called dilution of the Act and the called by Dalit organisations across the country:

1) Nine killed across the states amid Bharat Bandh: Nine people have died across the states amid the Bharat Bandh protests raging across the nation. Out of the eight killed, six hailed Madhya Pradesh, two from Uttar Pradesh and one from Rajasthan.

2) waives off penalties amid Dalit protests:

Amid violent protests across the states, waives off the penalties for date or flight change on all confirmed tickets.

In a tweet, Jet Airways mentioned: 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.

The states which have been hit by the protests are Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Odisha.

3) 448 people were detained in Uttar Pradesh: Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Law and Order Uttar Pradesh Praveen Kumar on Monday informed that one person was killed and 448 people were detained in Uttar Pradesh amid the nationwide bandh called by the several Dalits outfits over the dilution of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by the Supreme Court.

4) Supreme Court declines urgent hearing on a plea seeking review of the verdict on SC/ST Act:

The Supreme Court on Monday declined an urgent hearing on a plea which sought a stay and review of its recent verdict on SC/ST Act by which certain safeguards were put in place on automatic arrest of individuals. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said that the petition will be heard in due course of time.

Advocate Manoj Gaurkella, appearing for the employees federation said that the recent verdict passed by the apex court on March 20 was "unfair and unjust and it should be stayed".

5) Congress should not politicize the matter: Ram Vilas Paswan

Speaking on the Bharat Bandh protests, Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan today told news agencies that one can understand if the people are protesting, but why is the "Opposition playing politics". Paswan said that parties like the Congress, which did not give the Bharat Ratna to B R Ambedkar, are now acting like his followers.

"Parties like Congress who did not give Bharat Ratna to BR Ambedkar, and are now acting like his followers," said Ramvilas Paswan.

During a press conference in New Delhi on Monday, he further said that it is during the VP Singh government, that a portrait of BR Ambedkar was installed and was posthumously honoured with the Bharat Ratna.

6) MHA closely monitoring the situation: "MHA is closely monitoring the situation and is in constant touch with states. Whichever state has asked for Central Forces, they have been made available immediately," a spokesperson of Home Ministry said.

7) Modi government seeks urgent hearing in Supreme Court Speaking about the 'Bharat Bandh' protest raging across the country, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told news agency ANI: "We have filed the review petition in Supreme Court. I appeal to all political parties and groups to maintain peace and not incite violence."

Union Law Minister and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government on Monday "filed a review petition on the judgment by the Supreme Court on the SC/ST Act." Prasad said that the government has "filed a comprehensive review petition, which will be presented before the court by the senior lawyers of the government".

Bharat Bandh updates: 9 died; Jet waives off penalties over Dalit protests8) Violence in Bhind, Meerut, Barmer, and Ranchi: 'Bharat bandh' protesters on Monday resorted to stone pelting in Madhya Pradesh's Bhind, news agencies reported. Visuals of the 'Bharat bandh' protests from MadhyaPradesh's Morena over the SC/ST Protection Act showed protesters blocking a railway track.

During the protests, an apparel showroom was vandalised in Jaipur, reports added.

Protesters were also thrashed by police personnel in Meerut. Clashes took place between 'Bharat bandh' protesters and the police on Monday in Jharkhand's Ranchi. According to reports, several people were injured.

'Bharat bandh' protests over the SC/ST protection Act turned violent in Meerut. Many cars were reportedly damaged, according to news agency ANI. Further, violent protests took place in Rajasthan's Barmer, with cars and property being damaged, ANI reports said.

8) SC/ST protesters stop trains in Rajasthan, Bihar, and Punjab: With the 'Bharat bandh' protest raging across the country, protesters on Monday stopped a train at Bihar's Forbesganj Junction. Further, different groups, including Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation (CPIML) activists, protested in Bihar's Arrah and blocked a train, news agencies reported. Bharat Bandh protesters also stopped a train in Jaipur, agencies reported.

Protesters also stopped a train in Punjab's Patiala, according to news agency ANI.

9) CBSE postpones class 10, 12 exams in Punjab: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has postponed class 12 and class 10 examinations in Punjab scheduled to be held on Monday at the request of the state government in view of the 'Bharat Bandh'.

The board said it had received a letter of request, dated April 1, 2018, from the director general (school education) of the Punjab government to postpone all its examinations scheduled to be held on account of apprehensions of law and order problems and other disturbances during the 'Bharat Bandh'.

ALSO READ: 'Bharat Bandh' updates: Protests turns violent

Schools to be shut in Punjab: The Punjab government has also decided to keep all schools shut for the day, the CBSE said referring to the letter of the state government.

"Taking congnisance of the letter of the director general (school education), the CBSE decided to postpone all class 12 and 10 examinations scheduled for April 2 , 2018 in the state of Punjab," it said in a statement issued late in the night.

Exams unaffected in rest of the country: "Exams will carry on as per schedule in UT of Chandigarh and rest of the country," CBSE said. The next date of the examinations in Punjab will be announced soon by the board, it added.

Transport services suspended: An official spokesperson of the Punjab government in Chandigarh said the public transport services across the state had been suspended in view of the bandh call.

ALSO READ: 'Bharat Bandh' updates: Row over SC/ST Act disrupts normal life in Bihar, Odisha

10) Gehlot says SC decision will prevent justice: Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot on Sunday said the Centre had decided to file a review petition against the Supreme Court's decision on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 (SC/ST Act), contending it would not be able to provide justice to the suppressed.

"Supreme Court's decision on SC/ST Protection Act would not be able to provide justice to the suppressed people, and those accused and deserving of punishment would be saved. Union government took cognizance of it, and the Law Ministry with our ministry, took the decision that review petition will be filed against the court's decision," Gehlot told ANI.

He also assured the minorities and the suppressed castes that their right would be safeguarded under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and urged all groups that have called for a Bharat Bandh on Monday, to help maintain peace and harmony in the country.

ALSO READ: Dalits protest in Bihar against order on SC/ST Act

Rahul Gandhi says atrociticities against Dalits increasing: Congress President Rahul Gandhi questioned the Supreme Court's decision to water down the Act at a time when atrocities against Dalits ''are increasing''. "On the one hand, atrocities are increasing against the Dalits and tribals, and on the other the Act is being diluted. The Congress President has supported and said he will take action," he said.

'Dilution will embolden attacks on Dalits': DMK leader T K S Elangovan said dilution of the Act will embolden offenders. "Media is coming out with stories on attacks on Dalits and weaker sections. This is not a good sign. They should see that the law is not diluted. We want the President to intervene."

CPI(M) leader T K Rangarajan said they urged the President to ask the government to file a review petition.

"We think that he will take some immediate action and some justice will be done. We told him that conviction rate is very low, atrocities against Dalits, Adivasis, and women are increasing," he said.

Supreme Court's says Act may 'perpetuate casteism': On March 20, the Supreme Court ruled that there was no absolute bar on granting an anticipatory bail under the Act. The apex court said that to prevent the harassment of government servants it was prudent to have a high ranking officer to first ascertain whether the facts add up to demand an arrest.

The Supreme Court Bench, comprising judges Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit further noted that to avoid false implication of an innocent, preliminary enquiry will be done by the DSP to find out whether the allegations make out a case under the Atrocities Act and that the allegations are not frivolous.

According to a report published by The Wire, the Supreme Court also emphasised that the Act may even “perpetuate casteism” and how there was a need to curb “false implication of innocent citizens on caste lines”.

Watch: Nation observes Bharat Bandh over "dilution" of Prevention of Atrocities Act

With agency inputs

First Published: Mon, April 02 2018. 21:42 IST