Alleging that Dalit atrocities have peaked in the country ever since BJP came to power in 2014 Congress’ Priyanka Chaturvedi on Monday said that the Centre had deliberately avoided dialogue with the aggrieved Dalits after the Supreme Court pronounced its verdict on SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and it swung into action only after the agitation intensified and pressure was exerted on it.
Stay tuned as Sanchari Chatterjee brings you the latest updates:
MADHYA PRADESH | Curfew was imposed in some areas of Gwalior as well as in cities of Bhind and Morena districts in view of the violence witnessed during the bandh. Internet services have been suspended in the entire Chambal and Gwalior regions, besides the Sagar region which also saw protests. Six people were killed and several others injured in Madhya Pradesh on Monday.
CLICK TO READ | Dalit Protests Against Dilution of SC/ST Act Will go Padmaavat Way, Says Social Justice Minister
The minister said that the delay in filing the review petition against the SC order on SC/ST act was caused due to four-day public holiday.
AIRLINES WAIVE CHARGES | Jet Airways and Vistara today announced waiving cancellation and charges for change of dates for those passengers booked for flights operating to and out of airports in places affected due to Dalit protests. "Due to unrest in Chandigarh, Patna and Amritsar, we are waiving off penalties for date/ flight change, refund, no-show & fare difference (if any) on all confirmed tickets for flights to/out of these cities for travel on April 2," Jet Airways said in a tweet.
JIGNESH MEVANI | Dalit leader and independent MLA Jignesh Mevani joined the protests in Ahmedabad and said the apex court verdict was against the Constitution. "The case before the SC was related to a single person charged under the Atrocities Act, who pleaded that he was not guilty. The petitioner did not ask for any revision of the entire SC/ST Act. "But, the apex court gave a verdict as if it is over and above Parliament or the Constitution," Mevani told reporters.
BJP ATTACKS CONGRESS | The BJP today underlined the government's measures for the development of Dalits and dubbed Rahul Gandhi a "political vulture" out to seek "advantage" after the Congress chief blamed the ruling party for the community's plight. Union minister Thawarchand Gehlot and Arjun Ram Meghwal, both Dalits, sought to turn tables on the Congress over its treatment of B R Ambedkar, an icon of the Scheduled Castes. Their attack on Congress chief Rahul Gandhi came following his remarks that it was in the DNA of the RSS and BJP to keep Dalits at the lowest level in the Indian society.
The Congress and the Left parties today blamed the Centre for the violence during protests by Dalit bodies against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act and accused it of not representing the case properly in the Supreme Court. Congress President Rahul Gandhi slammed the RSS and the BJP for the plight of Dalits.
TRAINS DISRUPTED | Over 100 passenger and mail train services were today affected, nine were cancelled and a few more short-terminated. As the protesters squatted on the tracks, hurled stones at the trains and wreaked havoc on the platforms, the railways cancelled the Amritsar-Jaynagar Saryu Yamuna Express, New Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi Express, Jaipur-Chandigarh Intercity Express, Ajmer-New Delhi Shatabdi Express and the Sealdah-Varanasi Express, scheduled to have run today.
UTTAR PRADESH | One person was killed, over 70 others, including many policemen, injured while 448 people were arrested in Uttar Pradesh during the Dalit protests on Monday. Several towns in western UP saw violence and in Meerut, a former BSP MLA Yogesh Verma, was among those arrested, police said. There were several incidents of violence in Meerut, including the torching of a police post while in the neighbouring Muzaffarnagar, a man was killed and several vehicles were damaged, they added.
PUNJAB | Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today directed the security forces to stay on alert in view of the "volatile situation" prevailing in some of the neighbouring states during Bharat Bandh called by various SC/ST organisations. Singh urged the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes community to wait for the Supreme Court's decision on the review petition filed by the Centre and assured them of all possible efforts to address their grievances, both legally and administratively.
READ | Bharat Bandh: Eight 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.
The CPI(M) in a statement said the response to the call for a 'Bharat Bandh' by various Dalit organisations had been widespread in states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. "This shows the anger against the Supreme Court's decision to dilute the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act", it said.
CENTRE ON SC/ST ACT | As Dalit protests turned violent, the Centre today 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. Separately, 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".
READ | Why Dalits Are Out on Streets Protesting Against SC/ST Act
Accepted in 1949, Article 17 of the Indian Constitution abolishes untouchability, forbids its practice. Brought into practice in January 1950, Indians begun ignoring the constitutional verdict-of- ending untouchability.
Former Union minister Sharad Yadav today termed the Centre's review plea in the Supreme Court against its ruling on a law on atrocities against Dalits an "eyewash" and demanded that the government should rather bring an ordinance. "The conviction rate under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was anyway significantly lower than the national conviction rate for other crimes. Therefore, the government should bring an ordinance as an immediate relief," he said in a statement. "The review plea is nothing but an eyewash," Yadav added.
In a series of tweets, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah criticised the Centre for not doing enough to prevent the alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act. He said, "The BJP led NDA Govt has not taken steps to prevent the dilution of the SC/ST Atrocities Act. The BJP does not care for the Dalits. They try to appease them with Jumlas & at the same time deploy Ministers like Anant Kumar Hegde to say they are here to change the Constitution."
Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, says, “Some people are trying to disturb peace in Madhya Pradesh. We will take strict action against them. I appeal for peace. The government will take all measures to maintain peace.” A total of six people died in Madhya Pradesh as Dalit protests turned violent during Monday’s Bharat Bandh.
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