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Nine Dead, Thousands Arrested as Violent Dalit Protests Sweep Nation

While six were killed in cross-firing in Madhya Pradesh alone, one each died in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Curfew was imposed in several places and thousands were detained. Over 400 people were arrested in Uttar Pradesh alone.

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Updated:April 2, 2018, 11:07 PM IST
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Nine Dead, Thousands Arrested as Violent Dalit Protests Sweep Nation
Protesters hurl brickbats as smoke billows out of burning cars during 'Bharat Bandh' against the alleged 'dilution' of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes act, in Muzzaffarnagar on Monday. (PTI Photo)
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New Delhi: At least nine people were killed in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh on Monday while thousands were detained by the police and hundreds were left injured as the state and central governments struggled to control the massive protests that erupted across the north, west and east India over the Supreme Court’s alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act.

While six were killed in cross-firing in Madhya Pradesh alone, two in Uttar Pradesh and one Rajasthan. Curfew was imposed in several places and over 400 people were arrested in Uttar Pradesh alone. A former BSP MLA was also among those arrested in UP.

Expressing her party's support to protests against the Supreme Court order "diluting" provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, BSP supremo Mayawati alleged that some anti-social elements instigated violence leading to loss of lives and damage to properties.

She also said that the judgment was a result of the lackadaisical attitude of the Narendra Modi government on the issue.

Even as the Centre promised to submit a review petition against the Supreme Court judgment, Dalit organizations went ahead with their call for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on Monday that ended up in large-scale violence, arson and clashes.

The Centre rushed 1,700 anti-riot police personnel to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab as violence erupted during the nationwide bandh.

While eight companies of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) were sent to Uttar Pradesh, four companies were dispatched to Madhya Pradesh and three to Rajasthan, a Home Ministry official said.

Transport, mobile and internet services were hit in many states with over 100 trains getting affected due to protests, even as the Centre moved the Supreme Court seeking review of its recent judgment on the SC/ST Act, maintaining that the verdict will violate Constitutional rights of these communities.

Some states ordered educational institutions to remain shut as a precautionary measure as incidents of arson, firing and vandalism were reported from MP, UP, Rajasthan, Bihar and Punjab.

Over 100 passenger and mail train services were affected, nine were cancelled and a few more short-terminated.

In MP, three people 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.

Bharat Bandh dalit
Smoke billows out of burning cars during the 'Bharat Bandh' in Muzzaffarnagar on Monday. (PTI Photo)

In Rajasthan, one person was killed and 26 others, including nine policemen, were injured in Alwar.

Police arrested thousands of agitators in Bihar and Jharkhand during the day-long bandh, which threw life out of gear in several states in the eastern part of the country as well.

Though the impact of the bandh was minimal in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed support to the Dalit cause.

Normal life was disrupted in various parts of Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana, too, as protests turned violent and police resorted to teargas-shelling and lathicharge at some places, said officials.

As the protests continued to go out of hands, the Centre moved the Supreme Court seeking a review of its recent verdict on scheduled castes and tribes, saying it has led to "dilution" of some stringent provisions of law to prevent atrocities against them.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government "differs" with the reasoning given by the apex court judgment "virtually redoing the entire architecture of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act".

The apex court, however, declined urgent hearing on a writ petition filed by All India Federation of SC/ST organisations against the verdict claiming that the entire nation has witnessed large-scale violence during the 'Bharat Bandh'. The court said the plea would be listed and heard in due course.

(With PTI inputs)
| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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