Bharat bandh highlights: Dalit protests spread across north India; 9 killed in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, UP
Six people were killed in Madhya Pradesh two in Uttar Pradesh and one in Rajasthan as Dalit groups clashed with the police to protest a Supreme Court order which allegedly dilutes a law protecting their rights.
The violence in Gwalior district, Bhind, Morena and Sagar towns occurred when Dalit groups were taking part in ‘Bharat bandh’ to protest the court’s March 20 interpretation of The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989.
The Supreme Court on March 20 had banned automatic arrests and registration of criminal cases under the Scheduled Castes (SC) and the Scheduled Tribes (ST) Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, a legislation meant to protect the marginalised communities from abuse and discrimination.
A bench of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit ruled that no arrests can be made under the act without prior permission. It also held that a court can grant a pre-bail arrest (anticipatory bail) if it, prima facie, finds the complaint is an abuse of the law, false, motivated and intended to blackmail or harass a person.
Here are the highlights:
9:17 pm: Another person in Meerut succumbed to injuries, says DIG (Law and Order) UP, Praveen Kumar.
9:10 pm: “Few unfortunate incidents took place today. Strict action will be taken against those responsible. I appeal to everyone to maintain peace and harmony, and not pay attention to rumors. It is government’s responsibility to ensure safety and security of all sections of the society,” says MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
8:38 pm: Former Union minister Sharad Yadav terms the Centre’s review plea in the Supreme Court as “eyewash”.
“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,” Yadav says in a statement.
7:45 pm: Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar blames the Supreme Court and the Centre for violence in various states.
“Government and the Supreme Court are responsible for this violence. The government is creating an unsafe atmosphere for Dalit communities while the apex court’s recent order diluting the SC/ST Atrocities Act has forced the community to take to streets,” says Ambedkar, the grandson of B R Ambedkar.
7:28 pm: CPI(M) condemns deaths of protestors and accuses the central government of failing to present an effective case on the issue in the court.
“Such a situation has arisen because of the failure of the Modi government to present an effective case against the dilution of the Prevention of Atrocities Act,” a CPI(M) statement alleges.
7:20 pm: Government questions the Supreme Court order on SC/ST Act.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad says the government “differs” with the reasoning given by the Supreme Court judgement “virtually redoing the entire architecture of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act”.
7:15 pm: 1,700 anti-riot police personnel sent to UP, MP, Rajasthan, Punjab.
Eight companies of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) were sent to Uttar Pradesh, four companies were despatched to Madhya Pradesh and three to Rajasthan, a home ministry official said.
7:09 pm: Jet Airways says it was waiving off penalties for change of dates and providing refunds on all confirmed tickets booked on Monday for flights operating to and out of Chandigarh, Patna and Amritsar.
7:04 pm: All schools in Agra from Class 1 to Class 12, except those conducting board examinations, to remain shut on Tuesday.
6:56 pm: Another death reported from Gwalior taking the toll to six in Madhya Pradesh .
The victim was seriously injured and later succumbed, said IG (Intelligence) Makrand Deouskar.
6:08 pm: Home minister Rajnath Singh says government is committed to ensuring welfare of SCs, STs, and guaranteeing them full protection of law.
6:05 pm: Over 100 passenger and mail train services were and two trains, including a Shatabdi, were short-terminated as protesters squatted on the tracks.
The New Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi Express was short-terminated at Ludhiana, while the New Delhi-Amritsar Shan-e-Punjab Express was short-terminated at Ambala.
Many trains, including the Saptakranti Express, Utkal Express, Gatiman Express, Bhubaneswar and Ranchi Rajdhani and Kanpur Shatabdi, were stopped ahead of Ghaziabad at Meerut and Modinagar, Northern Railway officials said.
6:00 pm: 763 people have been detained in Jharkhand’s Ranchi district and 850 in east Singhbhum district.
5:55 pm: Congress holds the central government responsible for the loss of life and damage to properties during violent protests by Dalit outfits.
“I charge the central government, and not the Supreme Court, that this law was weakened and diluted because the central government did not represent the case properly before the court,” says Ghulam Nabi Azad.
If the attorney general or additional attorney general had appeared before the court, the Supreme Court might not have taken the decision: Azad.
5:37 pm: One person succumbs to injuries in Muzaffarnagar.
DIG (Law and Order), UP, Praveen Kumar says the agitator was injured in firing by some anti-social elements.
“40 policemen and 50 persons were injured in clashes in various districts. The police has taken 448 person into custody,” he said.
5:10 pm: States asked to take preventive steps and maintain public order to ensure safety of lives and property: Home ministry on Dalit agitation.
MHA closely monitoring the situation and is in constant touch with states; central forces made available: Ministry spokesperson.
5:02 pm: Centre rushes 800 anti-riot policemen to Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Two companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel have been sent to Meerut, one company each to Agra and Hapur (all in UP) and two companies each have been sent to Bhopal and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh.
A company of RAF comprises around 100 personnel.
4:53 pm: Toll rises to five in Madhya Pradesh with one more death reported from Mehgaon in Bhind. According to police, the deceased was shot.
4:52 pm: “Four people have died... can’t confirm number of people injured as yet. Police officials have also got injured. Police is still on field and is trying to restore peace, once that’s done we’ll file cases and begin inquiry on people who have caused disruption,” says IG (Law and Order), Madhya Pradesh.
4:50 pm: “We are shocked and pained that some of my Dalit brothers and sisters have been killed and injured. We support their cause. I appeal for peace,” says Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
4:25 pm: More than 200 people have been detained and we are getting cases registered against them. All conspirators and hooligans involved in anti-social activities will be booked under NSA. There have been no casualties so far: Manzil Saini, SSP Meerut.
4:24 pm: 27-year-old Pawan Kumar was killed as police opens fire in Rajasthan’s Alwar.
Protesters also pelted stones at police and burnt vehicles in the city.
In Bharatpur, Agra-Jaipur NH was blocked and tyres burnt. 25 protesters were detained and prohibitory orders have been imposed.
Internet services have been suspended in Bharatpur, Karauli, Sawai Madhopur, Alwar and Sikar till 8 pm and indefinitely in Jalore, Jaisalmer, Sirohi, Pali and Barmer districts.
4:15 pm: In Punjab, protest marches were taken out by the Dalits in Jalandhar, Patiala, Hoshiarpur, Ropar, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Bathinda, Kapurthala and Phagwara.
In Chandigarh, protests marches were carried out in Panchkula, Ambala, Kaithal, Hisar, Rohtak, Yamunanagar, Faridabad and Gurugram as well as in Chandigarh.
4:10 pm: In Jharkhand, majority of shops remained closed, anticipating violence.
In Palasboni area, on the outskirts of Jamshedpur, a truck carrying miscellaneous goods was set ablaze allegedly by protesters , the police said.
As many as 652 protesters were rounded up from various parts of the Steel City. In Palamu district, 200 bandh supporters were taken into custody, police said.
4:05 pm: The BJP government is misusing its power against Dalits and Adivasis, says Mayawati.
BSP chief Mayawati addresses media, says she supports the protest against the SC/ST Act. “I have got to know that some people spread violence during the protests, I strongly condemn it. Our party is not behind the violence during the protests,” she says.
Strict action should be taken against those who spread violence during the protests, she says.
3:55 pm: Police lathicharge protesters in Haryana’s Yamunanagar, reports ANI.
3:40 pm: Mobile internet services have been suspended and section 144 imposed in Rajasthan’s Barmer, Jalore, Sikar and Ahore following reports of violence there.
Nearly 25-30 companies of additional forces deployed across Rajasthan, police said.
Train movement affected in Alwar and Khairthal.
3:00 pm: A bus was vandalised and set ablaze in Azamgarh during protests.
2:26pm: Internet services suspended by the district administration in Gwalior, Morena and Bhind due to violence.
2:13pm: Mahavir Kushwah, a resident of Machhand in Bhind district, died during clashes in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind district. Death toll in Madhya Pradesh has now reached four.
2:00pm: Incidents of vandalism were reported from various parts of Gujarat. In Saurashtra, pockets of Bhavnagar, Amreli and Gir Somanth districts saw violent protests by mob.
In Rajkot city, protesters vandalised a mobile phone company’s showroom and forced the management to shut down Crystal Mall.
Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation bus was vandalised at Vanthali in Junagadh district.
1:50pm: In Delhi, protesters blocked Janpath intersection near Connaught Place. Protesters also blocked road outside the Mandi House Metro Station, bringing traffic to a halt as commuters faced inconvenience while travelling towards ITO and other stretches. Police has also curtailed the traffic movement on Sansad Marg from Patel Chowk to Jantar Mantar.
In Faridabad, two cops were injured as mob resorted to stone pelting.
1.46 pm: Two protesters were killed in police firing in Gwalior during Dalit demonstrations against the Supreme Court’s ruling on the SCs/STs act. Eighteen people were injured. Parts of Gwalior are under curfew. Earlier, one person was killed and 12 others injured in clashes in Morena town of the state.
1:30pm: Delhi Police is alert. We have adequate police deployment at places and senior officials are also present on the field. All steps will be taken to maintain law and order: Deependra Pathak, spokesperson, Delhi Police on Bharat Bandh.
1:18pm: Chhatisgarh Express was stopped by protesters by uprooting a railway track in MP’s Morena. Heavy police force has been deployed at a platform of the Morena railway station.
1:16pm: As protests turn violent, two companies of RAF in Meerut and one company in Hapur are being deputed.
1:14pm: We salute brothers and sisters from the Dalit community who have hit the streets to demand protection of their rights from the Modi government, tweets Congress president Rahul Gandhi
1:04pm: One can understand if people protest, but why is opposition playing politics? Parties like Congress who did not give Bharat Ratna to BR Ambedkar are now acting like his followers: Union minister Ramvilas Paswan
12.40pm: We have filed the review petition in Supreme Court. I appeal to all political parties & groups to maintain peace and not incite violence: Union home minister Rajnath Singh told ANI news.
12.30pm: Three people, including two policemen, injured as police resort to lathi charge in Ajmer, Rajasthan. Police say the protestors attacked first with stones.
12.25pm: One person was killed and 12 others injured in clashes in Morena (MP), curfew imposed, reports ANI News.
12:14pm: In Hapur and Meerut (UP), thousands of protesters are out on streets. Hundreds of vehicles are stranded on NH58 as the protesters have blocked roads and vandalised vehicles.
12:10pm: Several people, including a journalist, have been injured in clashes in Morena and Bhind and Gwalior.
12:08pm: In Mumbai, the bandh evoked a lukewarm response. Though Prakash Ambedkar’s Bahujan Bharipa Mahasangh (BBM) has supported the bandh, its workers were not spotted participating in it actively in the morning.
11:53am: In Alwar, five people were injured after a shopkeeper opened fire at protesters. Thousands of Dalit protesters have picketed Alwar government hospital and are demanding arrest of the man who opened fire at them.
11:46am: The central and state govts are dedicated towards the welfare of backward castes, SC and ST. I appeal to all to not disturb the law and order: UP CM Yogi Adityanath
11:35am: I wish to convey that today we’ve filed a petition on the judgement by Supreme Court on the SC/ST act. We have filed a comprehensive review petition which will be presented before the court by the senior lawyers of the government: Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union law minister
11:34am: News agency ANI reports several people have been injured in Ranchi after a clash between protesters and police.
11:20am: In Meerut, protesters torched Shobhapur police post and vandalised a car and motorcycle.
11:09am: Protests turn violent in Barmer, cars and property damaged, reports news agency ANI
11:05am: In Kapurthala’s Subhanpur, protesters blocked the Jalandhar-Amritsar National Highway. Protestors also blocked panda bypass in Hoshiarpur.
10.50am: Bihar: With posters, banners and flags, supporters of the Bhim Army and other Dalit organisations, halted over a dozen long-distance trains, and as a result, passengers were stranded at Patna, Gaya, Jehanabad, Bhagalpur, Ara, Darbhanga, Araria, Nalanda and Hajipur railway stations.
10.45am: At some places in Bihar, the protesters have also blocked national and state highways.
10:30am: In Kerala, all offices, banks and business establishments will remain closed. State buses have also suspended their services.
10:20am: Protests are being staged in Agra and Bharatpur too. Protesters also stopped a train in Patiala in Punjab, reports news agency ANI.
9.34am: Shops, educational institutions and other establishments remained closed in Jalandhar and Amritsar.
9:28am: Protesters stopped a train at Forbesganj junction in Bihar.
8.30am: Movement of train in Odisha’s Sambalpur blocked by protesters against Supreme Court’s decision on SC/ST Protection Act, reports ANI news.
8.15am: Mobile internet services in Punjab were suspended from 5 pm on Sunday till Monday evening in a bid to check rumour-mongering on the social media.
8am: The CBSE has postponed class 12 and class 10 examinations scheduled to be held on Monday in Punjab at the request of the state government.
(With inputs from Jaipur, Bhopal, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Thiruvananthapuram)