New Delhi: A nationwide shutdown called by various Dalit organisations to protest against the Supreme Court’s ruling on amendments under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 has taken a violent turn killing four people in Madhya Pradesh.
The Supreme Court on March 20 had introduced the provision of anticipatory bail in the act while directing that there would be no automatic arrest on any complaint filed under the law.
The ruling drew flak from the Opposition parties and some of its own leaders, who said that it would make the law ineffective.
Even as violent protests were reported from across the country, the Centre on Monday filed a petition seeking review of the apex court’s order diluting the provisions of the act that protects marginalised communities against discrimination and atrocities.
Earlier in the day, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad confirmed that the government filed a comprehensive petition in the apex court which would be presented before the top court by senior lawyers. He said that the government didn’t agree with the SC’s ruling and that there was no intention of changing provision of reservation for minorities.
Meanwhile, a storm of outrage engulfed numerous parts of the country, including Bihar, Punjab, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan, which even saw angry protestors taking to the destruction of private and public property to send their message of disapproval to legislature and judiciary.
Below are the updates so far:
02:30 pm: Inspector General Law and Order Makrand Deuskar said that four people have died in protests in Gwalior and Morena in Madhya Pradesh.
02:12 pm: 19 people got injured in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior of which two are in critical condition. Internet services have also been blocked in Gwalior district till 6:00 am tomorrow.
01:30 pm: Shots were fired during protests in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior.
— ANI (@ANI) April 2, 2018
01:30 pm: Delhi Police is alert. We have adequate police deployment at places and senior officials are also present on the field. All steps will be taken to maintain law and order: Deependra Pathak, spokesperson, Delhi Police on Bharat Bandh
01:14 pm: We salute brothers and sisters from the Dalit community who have hit the streets to demand protection of their rights from the Modi government, tweets Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
दलितों को भारतीय समाज के सबसे निचले पायदान पर रखना RSS/BJP के DNA में है। जो इस सोच को चुनौती देता है उसे वे हिंसा से दबाते हैं।
हजारों दलित भाई-बहन आज सड़कों पर उतरकर मोदी सरकार से अपने अधिकारों की रक्षा की माँग कर रहे हैं।
हम उनको सलाम करते हैं।#BharatBandh
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 2, 2018
01:04 pm: One can understand if people protest, but why is opposition playing politics? Parties like Congress who did not give Bharat Ratna to BR Ambedkar are now acting like his followers: Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan.
12:41 pm: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has appealed 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 Supreme Court for reconsidering of the verdict on the act, he urged the protesters on Monday to refrain from imposing blockades and committing violent acts.
Talking to the media, Rajnath said, “We have filed the review petition in Supreme Court. I appeal to all political parties and groups to maintain peace and not incite violence.”
12:34: Amidst protest, the shops were being forcibly shut down by protesters in Uttarakhand’s Dehradun.
12:20 pm: A person has been killed in Madhya Pradesh’s Morena while curfew has been imposed in parts of Gwalior and Section 144 (prohibits assembly of more than 4 people in the area) imposed in Sagar.
11:59 am: Protesters were thrashed by police personnel in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut for creating nuisance in the area.
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) April 2, 2018
11:45 am: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also appealed the protestors not to disturb the law and order.
“The central and state governments are dedicated towards the welfare of backward castes, SC and ST. I appeal to all to not disturb the law and order. If at all there are any issues you can bring them to government’s notice,” Adityanath said.
11:26 am: A scuffle erupted between protesters and Police in Jharkhand’s Ranchi protesting against Supreme Court directive on SC/ST Act.
10:46 am: Protest turned violent in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut and Rajasthan’s Barmer. Protestors damaged cars and public property. While the effects of Bandh has also been witnessed in Delhi’s Mandi House.
In Punjab, the transport and mobile Internet services have been suspended. The educational institutions also remain closed.
09:35 am: The protest spreads out to Agra and Rajasthan. Agitators are seen taking to the streets over the issue.
09:32 am: Protestors stop a train at Forbesganj Junction in Bihar in the wake of protests over the SC/ST act. The band has been called by Dalit organisations across the country.
08:55 am: The effects of Bandh are visible in Bihar where protestors blocked a train and roads in Sonapur area.
08:45 am: The Congress Party on Monday reiterated that the Centre did not present the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Protection Act properly before the Supreme Court.
Party leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi told ANI, “Of course, a review petition (SC/ST protection act) should be filed and it’s the right of the Government, it is a legal procedure. The basic question is that why they were unable to present the case properly before SC and lost; inquiry is needed.”
08:35 am: Police force has been deployed in Punjab’s Amritsar to avoid unwelcome situation due to the protests called by various Dalit organisations across the country. (ANI)