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Upper Caste Youth to Protest SC/ST Act Amendment in MP Today, High Alert Amid Fears of Counter Stir

The show of might, as the organisations representing upper caste groups put it, comes as resentment among anti-reservationists has been building up in the poll-bound state.

Vivek Trivedi | News18

Updated:September 4, 2018, 1:42 PM IST

Gwalior: Over a dozen social organisations representing upper castes have mobilised thousands of youths to protest against the amendments in the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in Gwalior on Friday.

The show of might, as the organisations put it, comes as resentment among anti-reservationists has been building up in the state, especially in the caste-sensitive Chambal-Gwalior region in the northern part.

This is the same region that had sizzled during the April 2 Dalit Mahabandh, which was marred by massive violence that left eight dead and several injured. The administration is on high alert amid fears of clashes in case Dalit youths resort to counter protests.

Gagan Tiwari, youth wing head of Sanadhya Sabha, said a gathering of around 15,000 to 20,000 people is expected at Phoolbagh Maidan on Friday. “We have asked the administration to identify anti-social elements which might make attempts to disrupt law and order during our peaceful protest,” said Tiwari.

Another event organiser, Pt Manmohan Sharma, said the Centre’s move to reverse the Supreme Court judgment through an amendment in the Monsoon Session of Parliament had vitiated the atmosphere of social harmony and brotherhood in the region.

Both Sharma and Tiwari alleged widespread misuse of the SC/ST act. The apex court had in April removed the stringent mandatory arrest provision of the act leading to nationwide protests and eventual overturning of the provision through the amendment.

Sharma said various organisations, including Karni Sena, Parashuram Sena, Jaat Mahasabha, Pal Sabha, Prajapati Samaj, Vaish Samaj, Kshtriya Mahasabha, Yadav Mahasabha, Gurjar Mahasabha and others, have extended support to the protest.

Their anger is directed at the ruling BJP as well as the Congress as they both were in support of the amendment, the organisers said.

The united organisation also threatened to oppose political parties in the Assembly and the Lok Sabha polls.

Banners outside residential areas asking potential candidates not to seek votes from them as they belong to general category have already come up.

Giving an example of the alleged misuse of the SC/ST act, Tiwari said that recently a Dalit man had entered a sweet shop, picked up a sweet without seeking permission from the shopkeeper and ate it. As the shopkeeper slapped him following an argument feud, the customer got him jailed under the act, he claimed.

KD Sonakia, a retired DSP and the state head of Akhil Bharatiya Brahmin Mahasabha, told News18 he personally saw hundreds of fake complaints under the said act in his career.

“The act offers monetary incentive to the complainant which can’t be withdrawn even if the complaint is found to be forged and section 4 of the act mandates jail term of one year if the general or OBC category investigating officer fails to register the case.

“We are seeking an equitable provision where the accused is given due right to defend himself and not jailed on mere complaint, said Sonakia.

The Samanya Pichhra Varg Alpsankhyak Kalyan Samaj (SAPAKS), an organisation of government employees and officers, is up in arms against state government on the issue of reservation in promotion and has even approached the SC.

SPAKAS has already announced that it will field candidates in all the 230 Assembly constituencies to ‘teach’ a lesson to both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress and exhibit might of the upper castes and the OBCs.

Hiralal Trivedi, state head of SAPAKS, could not be reached for comments on the organisation’s stand on September 4 protest in Gwalior.

In the recent past, the ministers in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government have faced public ire in various districts, primarily in Chambal region, over the amendments in the SC/ST Act.

On Saturday, Thavarchand Gehlot, accompanied by senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, had faced public anger in Guna as locals surrounded him and raised slogans.

Union minister MJ Akbar had faced similar protest in Vidisha, the parliamentary constituency of Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj.

On Sunday, BJP state head Rakesh Singh faced protest from the SAPAKS members in Sagar while the upper caste members and the OBCs staged gherao at union minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s bungalow in Gwalior.

Health and Family Welfare minister Rustam Singh too faced opposition and bangles were thrown on his car in Morena recently.

Rakesh Singh, speaking to News18, declined to comment on SC/ST Act while MPCC state head Kamal Nath on Saturday said that the Congress stands by the amendment.

Nath said that those upset need to understand that provisions mentioned in the amendment were not new and always have been part of the act.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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