A day after violent 'Bharat Bandh,' BJP president Amit Shah on Tuesday said a "microscopic minority of dejected and rejected political parties" made the people suffer and sought their apology to "Dalit sisters and brothers." In a series of tweets, Shah reached out to the community, which has been protesting a Supreme Court order on a law on atrocities against it, and sought to turn the tables on the Congress by raking up its treatment to Dalit icon Bhimrao Ambedkar. He also blamed "vested interest groups" for spreading the panic on the issue of reservation for Dalits, saying it is done before every election and asserted that the government will do everything to protect their rights. Right from the day the apex court gave its judgment on the SC/ST atrocities act, the central government acted in an "immediate and informed" manner and has filed an effective review petition to protect the Dalits' rights, Shah said.
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Madhya Pradesh police filed an FIR against two of its own policemen in Bhind district on Tuesday in connection with the death of one person during Bharat bandh-related violence on Monday. "A complaint was received against two constables in Bhind in connection with the death of Mahavir Rajwat who had suffered gunshots on Monday and died later,” IG (Law & Order) Makrand Deuskar said. Meanwhile, the officer claimed that another body has been recovered from a farmland in Mehgaon town of the district in the morning. The man identified as Dasrath Jatav (45), reportedly died due to injuries inflicted in assault by lathis, he said.
RECAP | Mayawati on violence during Bharat Bandh: Backwards are not getting their Constitutional rights yet. BJP is always doing politics of caste. The central government took a lot of time in filing the review petition against the SC/ST Act judgment. Had they filed the review petition in time, there wouldn't be any protests or Bharat Bandh.
Supreme court has declined to stay its judgment. The apex court clarifies compensation to victims won't have to wait for registration of FIR. "No need to conduct preliminary inquiry when other offences are also involved," it said, adding that there should be no politics in the case. The matter has been posted for hearing after 10 days.
The transport and communications services were also severely hit in many states on Monday with over 100 trains being affected due to protests during the Bharat Bandh. While some states ordered closure of educational institutions, and curtailed internet and mobile services, incidents of arson, firing and vandalism continued to disrupt Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab, among other states.
Earlier, former Union minister Sharad Yadav had 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.
On Monday, Jet Airways and Vistara had 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.
The court had on March 20 said that on "several occasions", innocent citizens were being termed as accused and public servants deterred from performing their duties, which was never the intention of the legislature while enacting the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The top court had said that unless the exclusion of anticipatory bail is limited to "genuine cases and inapplicable to cases where there is no prima facie case was made out, there will be no protection available to innocent citizens". The SC/ST Atrocities Act was first passed in 1989 by the Janata Dal government led by VP Singh. Paswan as Social Justice Minister in the government piloted the original bill.
Hearing begins in SC over SC/ST Act review petition. Supreme Court prima facie is not inclined to review SC/ST Act judgment. "Those agitating on streets may not have even read our judgment. Vested interests are also involved some time. We are only concerned about innocent people being put behind bars. We are not against the Act at all. But innocents can't be punished on unilateral version. Why does government want people to be arrested without verification," the apex court observes.
Ahir also said the conviction rate in 2014, when it came to crimes against Scheduled Castes, was 28.4%, which dipped to 27.2% in 2015 and 25.8% in 2016. For crimes against Scheduled Tribes, the conviction rate was 30.9% in 2014, 19.8% in 2015 and 20.8% in 2016. Before 2014, crimes against Scheduled Castes stood at 33,593 in 2012 and 39,346 in 2013. During the same years, crimes against Schedule Tribes were 5920 and 6768 respectively. The statement comes a day after 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.
Amid widespread protests across the country over the Supreme Court order on dilution of the SC/ST Atrocities Act, the ruling BJP on Wednesday said that in the last five years, 2014 and 2016 recorded the maximum number of atrocities against SC/ST in the country. Responding to a question in the Lok Sabha earlier in the day, Minister of state (Home Affairs) Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said that during 2014, the number of cases registered as crimes against Scheduled Castes was 40,300. The number fell to 38,564 in 2015 which further rose to 40,774 in 2016. As far as crimes against Scheduled Tribes went, Ahir said in 2014, 6768 cases were registered which fell to 6275 in 2015. It further rose to 6564 in 2016.
Ahead of the Dalit protests over the SC/ST Act, the CBSE issued a statement on Sunday saying the Board was postponing Monday's Board examinations in Punjab after a request by state Punjab government voicing apprehension over a bandh call given by Dalit outfits in the state. In its statement, the board said, "The board has received a letter of request dated 01.04.2108 from the Director General School Education stating that due to apprehensions of law and order problems and other disturbances on 2nd April 2018 during the call for Bharat Bandh given by some organisations and to prevent any untoward situation involving school going children, the state government has taken a decision to keep all schools closed on that day and have also requested CBSE to postpone all its examinations scheduled to be held on 2nd April 2018."
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.
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.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear the Centre's plea on SC/ST Act after the central government informed the court that an emergency-like situation was prevailing in the country. The attorney general has sought a hearing at 2 pm. Attorney General K K Venugopal mentioned the review petition before Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel for an open court hearing, following which the court agreed to hear the matter. "Failure to maintain law and order cannot be a ground to alter a judgment. Let CJI take a call on the constitution of the bench," it said.
A day after violent Dalit protests against the alleged diluting of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes act rocked the country, the government on Tuesday assured Parliament that it was “fully committed to protect the interest of the SC/ST community”. Defending the government in the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the government has taken a decision to “strengthen” the act. "Through the House, I want to assure the people that there has been no dilution whatsoever by my government, rather after coming to power and examining the SC/ST prevention Atrocities Act, we have taken a decision to strengthen it," he said.
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