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Dalit Supporters Raise Suspicion Over Deferring of Bharat Bandh

Despite the nation-wide agitation being deferred, Mahadika Reservation Samiti, a Telangana-based Dalit organisation, staged its protest at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi on Thursday.

Aishwarya Kumar, Rounak Kumar Gunjan@aishwaryak03

Updated:August 10, 2018, 8:01 AM IST
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Dalit Supporters Raise Suspicion Over Deferring of Bharat Bandh
Members of Dalit community stage a protest during 'Bharat Bandh' against the alleged 'dilution' of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes act, in April. (File photo: PTI)
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New Delhi: The Bharat Bandh called by Dalit organisations, which was to be held on Thursday was postponed a day ahead of the scheduled protest after some groups said that their primary demand of restoring the SC/ST prevention of atrocity act was passed in the Lok Sabha. However, the sudden decision raised doubts among protesters mobilised from across the country for the purpose of Bandh.

“We knew it was a hoax and it wouldn’t have happened in any case,” said Vijay Jatav, a leader of the Bhim Army, a Dalit organisation which was a stronghold in Uttar Pradesh. “This strike call was nothing but an RSS conspiracy to gain Dalit votes.”

Despite the nation-wide agitation being deferred, Mahadika Reservation Samiti, a Telangana-based Dalit organisation, staged its protest at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi on Thursday.

Participants of the protest spoke to News18 and expressed a similar view.

"There are leadership troubles. There is clearly a rift among the leaders. We had come here for an all-India Bandh, which has now been cancelled. My colleagues in the organisation are also curious as to how the decision was suddenly taken," a protester said without wanting to reveal his identity.

Dalit activist from Telangana, Raju also expressed his dissatisfaction over Bharat Bandh being cancelled.

"We travelled from all over the country. We slept on railway station platforms, Jantar Mantar, Ambedkar House. But we have to fight. Who else will? I have come here for myself," Raju added.

An activist from Tamil Nadu, on condition of anonymity, said he was struggling to find a place to stay but had come here to show his support. "There was no Bandh as such but we still protested. Our voices were heard by a few leaders, if not all," he added.

Headed by Ashok Bharti, Dalit groups under the banner of the All India Ambedkar Mahasabha (AIAM) had lead the call for bandh in calling for the Bandh and later deferred it.

Speaking to News18, Bharti, chairman of AIAM said, “We are giving more time to the government to fulfil our demands. We are not calling off the bandh, we are only deferring it. If the Centre does not accept our demands we will hit the streets again.”

He denied speculations of any rift within the community and maintained that the decision to continue protest and postpone Bandh was taken unanimously.

Bharti also said that this was done keeping in mind the Kanwariya Yatra. "It is the culmination day of the Kanwariya Yatra, we don't want to cause problems to them," he said.

This comes immediately after the Lok Sabha passed The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill 2018 to overturn a Supreme Court order concerning certain safeguards against arrest under the law. The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill 2017, which grants constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), was also passed by Parliament on Monday.
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