New Delhi: At least five people have been reported dead so far in the massive nationwide protests against the alleged “dilution” of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities ) Act.
The death toll in Madhya Pradesh has spiked up to four, while one person is reported dead in Alwar, Rajasthan, during the violent protests that erupted in the nationwide shutdown called by dalit outfits.
In Bihar’s Vaishali a newborn child died on not being able to reach hospital on time due to the ongoing agitations.
Two people have been reported dead in Gwalior while one person has been reported dead in each of Bhind and Morena of Madhya Pardesh. Situation in MP worsened to an extent that a curfew had to be imposed in Gwalior to gain control of the situation.
Bharat Bandh has affected 14 states of India throwing life totally out of gear. Among the worst affected are 20 districts of Uttar Pradesh , 9 of Madhya Pardesh, 10 of Rajasthan, 19 of Bihar and 2 of Punjab . but the maximum violence is observed in Madhya Pradesh.
Dalit leader of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati demanded strict action against those spreading violence. She said in a press conference that anti-social and communal elements are responsible for triggering violence during the Bandh. She further added that the protests of dalits and the Scheduled Tribes is being marred by anti-social elements.
Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government , Mayawati said that the Centre and BJP state governments do not keep to their promises when it comes to dalit groups, which is why they have to face allegations of being communal.
She added that the people belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, have not yet fully been given their legal and constitutional rights.
The government on Monday filed a review petition before the Supreme Court, challenging its order banning automatic arrest and registration of cases for alleged harassment of SCs and STs.
The Supreme Court on March 20 diluted the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, in a bid to protect honest public servants discharging bonafide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Act.
The apex court said government servants should not be arrested without prior sanction and private citizens too should be arrested only after an inquiry under the law.
But Dalit organisations, including the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch, and some political parties fear the dilution of the provisions might lead to increase in violence against Dalits.