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MP acts on cases after Mayawati threat

Many cases were filed after Dalit organisations called a Bharat bandh on April 2, 2018
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati

Our Special Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 01.01.19, 10:08 PM


The Madhya Pradesh government has decided to withdraw “politically-motivated” cases filed against Dalits for participating in the Bharat bandh on April 2 last year, a day after Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati issued an ultimatum to undo the “injustice” done during the BJP regime.

Madhya Pradesh law and legislative affairs minister P.C. Sharma responded publicly to Mayawati’s demand, saying on Tuesday that “all political cases which were filed during the Dalit agitation will be withdrawn”.

The minister had said earlier that politically-motivated cases would be withdrawn. “I will soon consult with the principal secretary of the department and prepare a proposal to withdraw politically-motivated cases against Congress workers and leaders. The proposal would be submitted to chief minister Kamal Nath for action,” he had said.

Mayawati then intervened forcefully, declaring on Monday: “If the newly elected governments in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan do not act swiftly and withdraw the cases against the innocent persons framed in the Bharat bandh, the BSP may have to reconsider the decision to extend outside support to the Congress governments.”

In a formal statement, Mayawati said innocent people were framed because of politics and caste in Uttar Pradesh and other BJP-ruled states, including Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The BSP has two members in Madhya Pradesh’s 230-member Assembly, while in Rajasthan her party has six seats in the 200-member House.

A large number of cases were filed after the Bharat bandh call on April 2, 2018, against the Centre’s inaction in overturning the Supreme Court order diluting the SC/ST (Atrocities) Act evoked a massive response.

Many Dalit organisations had given the bandh call. While the Congress had taken up the issue forcefully, asking the Narendra Modi government to restore the act immediately, the BJP took an ambiguous stand. The government eventually passed the bill to undo the dilution in August.

The Gwalior-Bhind-Morena region of Madhya Pradesh bore the brunt of violence during the bandh as eight people died and several were injured. The police launched a massive crackdown and the Dalits bitterly complained of a witch-hunt as a large number of people were arrested. This was a big issue in the Assembly election and the majority of Dalits voted against the BJP.

The BJP also suffered a backlash from upper caste supporters as it relented in the end and restored the act.

Gehlot assurance

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said on Tuesday his government would examine cases registered against Dalit protesters after the Bharat bandh last year, adds PTI. “Mayawati’s demand is natural,” Gehlot told journalists in Jaipur.

“Cases were lodged against Dalits and how many of them were guilty is a matter of investigation,” he said. “Sometimes, those who are

innocent are booked. She might be right in her perspective and the government will look into it and will examine the cases. The innocent should not be framed,” he said.

Gehlot thanked Mayawati for extending outside support to his government. “I appreciate and thank her,” he said.

The chief minister added that there should be rule of law in the country.

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