Seven people were sacrificed at the altar of Dalit politics during the Bharat Bandh by dalit organizations on Monday, protesting against the Supreme court’s decision related to the SC/ST Act.
5 people were killed in bandh related violence in Madhya Pradesh while one each died in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The violence initially started in one or two places and soon spread through multiple states. North Indian states of Bihar, Uttarakhand, Panjab and Odisha were also impacted by the violence.
A home ministry spokesperson said the “MHA is closely monitoring the situation and is in constant touch with states. Central forces have been made available to the states.”
There were multiple clashes between bandh supporters and security forces – many of which turned violent. There were reports of wide spread vandalism, stone-pelting and consequently police had to fire live bullets in some places. Madhya Pradesh Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh reported incidents police firing on protesters.
Meanwhile, a review petition was filed in the Supreme Court by the BJP-led Centre against the court’s order on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act last month, even as violence spread quickly from one state to another. The last court order had annulled the provision for automatic arrests on complaints under the SC/ST Act.
But the urgent plea was refused to be heard by the Chief Justice of India. The Centre pleaded with the court to restore the earlier status of the law which permitted automatic arrests under the SC/St Act and treating of complaints under the act as being cognizable non-bailable offences.
“We have filed a review petition in the Supreme Court. I appeal to all political parties and groups to maintain peace and not incite violence,” said Union home minister Rajnath Singh. Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “humbly that we don’t agree with the SC’s reasoning behind the order.”
Protesters engaged in blocking railway crossing and putting public property on flames in Madhya Pradesh where 5 people died in the clashes between protesters and the police. Nine people injured in Gwalior are said to be in a critical condition. The administration also imposed curfew in several areas.
Shops were seen to be forcibly shut down in Uttarakhand’s Dehradun and Rajasthan’s Jaipur – where a number of shops were also vandalised. In Barmar city of Rajasthan, private cars and public property were damaged. The lone death in Rajasthan occurred in Alwar where a youth was killed in police firing on protesters.
Internet services, bulk SMSes and MMSes were temporarily banned in Barmer.
Issues related to welfare of Dalits remained the centre piece of a fight of comments between Congress president Rahul Gandhi and the BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad earlier in the day.
Rahul said that the “oppression of dalits is in the RSS’s and BJP’s DNA”.
“Keeping dalits at the lowest rung of Indian society is in the DNA of the RSS/BJP. Whoever dares challenge this position is suppressed with violence,” tweeted Rahul.
The BJP’s Prasad soon commented back to accuse the Congress of “playing politics with BR Ambedkar”. “The Modi government and the BJP want to make one thing clear, that dalit and Adivasi welfare is what we want, but some people are playing politics with Ambedkar,” said the BJP’s Prasad.
(Adapted from NDTV.com)