Bharat Bandh: Modi govt committed to uphold SC/ST Act says Rajnath Singh

Ravi Shankar Prasad

Ravi Shankar Prasad

Nine deaths and widespread violence during Monday's Bharat Bandh called by Dalit groups to protest the alleged dilution of a law protecting the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes saw the government and the BJP swing into damage-control mode.

Five people were killed in cross-firing in Madhya Pradesh alone, and one each in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, according to officials there.

In its review petition, the Government is expected to argue that the court's ruling would dilute the provisions of the law meant to protect the socially marginalised and the changes in the Act could lead to higher atrocities against Dalits and tribals.

This comes a day after a violent protest during Bharat Bandh called by Dalit groups turned violent. The government opened the window for anticipatory bail.

In Meerut, Uttar Pradesh also, various protesters were lathi charged. Three people died yesterday because of the violence.

The minister said Rule 3 (v) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995 specifies that with a view to prevent atrocities on members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the state government, if deemed necessary, can provide arms licenses to the member of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

On 20 March, the same bench had in its ruling said that there can be no immediate arrests for offences under the SC/ST Act without a preliminary investigation.

The apex court, which entertained Centre's review petition against the verdict, asserted that "no provisions of SC/ST Act have been diluted" while clarifying that additional safeguards had been put in place "to protect the fundamental rights" of innocents.

Transport, mobile and internet services were hit even as the Centre moved the Supreme Court seeking review of its recent judgment on the SC/ST Act. Many people including women have come down on the streets of Agra and Bharatpur to protest.

Justice Karnan was sentenced to six months' imprisonment by the apex court past year for accusing judges of Madras High Court and the Supreme Court of corruption.

Gwalior District Magistrate Rahul Jain told IANS that at least 22 persons were injured, some critically, in clashes in his district, where prohibitory orders banning large gatherings were also imposed.

In its attempt to contain the misuse of this Act, this provision is pushing every genuine case into the purview of suspicion and this would only delay the process of justice for those who are actually oppressed and exploited. Speaking to reporters, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the Centre had no intention of removing the provision of reservation for minorities.

Meanwhile, slogans of "We want justice" were raised in Lok Sabha as Rajanth Singh made a statement regarding the incidents of violence during protests on SC/ST Act issue.

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