Monday, 30th October 2017

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7 dead in Dalit protests against Supreme Court judgment on SC/ST Act

Seven persons were killed and many injured in violent protests during Monday’s bandh called by Dalits to protest a Supreme Court judgment that they say dilutes a 1989 law passed to protect them from discrimination and atrocities.

  • Published 2.04.18
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 Members of Dalit community stop a train during 'Bharat Bandh' against the alleged 'dilution' of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Act, in Mathura on Monday. PTI Photo

New Delhi, Apr 2 (Agencies): Seven persons were killed and many injured in violent protests during Monday’s bandh called by Dalits to protest a Supreme Court judgment that they say dilutes a 1989 law passed to protect them from discrimination and atrocities.

The protests against the judgment, which came in a case involving the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, left five dead in Madhya Pradesh alone, while Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan reported a death each.

Curfew was imposed in several places and hundreds were detained. The Army and paramilitary forces were also put on standby in Punjab.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh appealed for peace, while Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government was not a party to the Supreme Court judgment and “respectfully” did not agree with its reasoning.

Prasad said the government has filed a very comprehensive review petition.

The Supreme Court’s March 20 judgment had said the abuse of the law of arrest under the SC/ST Act required it to shield honest public servants from blackmail in the discharge of their duty. It was ruling in a case brought by a Dalit storekeeper in Maharashtra whose superiors had made adverse entries in his annual confidential report.

People stage protest during 'Bharat Bandh' against the dilution of provisions of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by Supreme Court, in Amritsar on Monday. PTI Photo 

Dalits and the Opposition have criticised the judgment, which they feel will worsen their condition.

The Supreme Court has said that arrests under the  Act would require prior sanction from officials, and barred the immediate arrest of those accused in such complaints.

Transport, mobile and internet services were hit in many states with over 100 trains affected by the protests. 

In MP, two died in Gwalior, two in Bhind and one in Morena. In UP, one person was killed in Muzaffarnagar and nearly 75 persons including 40 policemen were injured in violent protests in various parts of the state. Police have detained nearly 450 people there. In Rajasthan, one person was killed and 26 others, including nine policemen, were injured in Alwar.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged that incidents of atrocities on Dalits and minorities have increased since the National Democratic Alliance came to power in 2014, while Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal extended his support to the protesting groups.

Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, a prominent Dalit leader and head of NDA member Lok Janshakti Party, appreciated the government's quick decision.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath appealed for peace and urged the people not to vitiate law and order, as violence was reported from many districts including Azamgarh where protesters torched two state-run buses, injuring several passengers.

Many trains, including premier Rajdhani and Shatabdi expresses, were stopped by protestors while some were short-terminated.

Shopkeepers sit outside their closed shops during 'Bharat Bandh call by Dalit organisations against the  dilution of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by Supreme Court, in Amritsar on Monday. PTI Photo