Bharat Bandh: 1 killed in MP; shots fired, 19 injured in Gwalior; updates

Dalit organisations across the country have called a ‘Bharat bandh’ on Monday to protest a recent Supreme Court ruling “diluting” the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The Modi government on Monday filed a review petition on the Supreme Court judgment on the SC/ST Act. The protests left one dead in Madhya Pradesh’s Morena, where a curfew was later imposed along with parts of Gwalior. Protests turned violent in Rajasthan’s Barmer, with cars and property being damaged. Similar reports emerged from Meerut. Visuals from Bharat Bandh protests in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior showed shots being fired during the protests, news agency ANI reported.

Nineteen people were on Monday injured in Gwalior. Of them, two were said to be in a critical condition, news agency ANI reported. Further, internet service has been blocked in Gwalior district till 6:00 am tomorrow.

Speaking on the Bharat Bandh protests, Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan today told news agencies that one can understand if the people are protesting, but why is the “Opposition playing politics”. Paswan said that parties like the Congress, which did not give the Bharat Ratna to B R Ambedkar, are now acting like his followers.

The Bharat bandh has already brought Punjab to a standstill, as CBSE has postponed the board exams scheduled for April 2, and transport services have been suspended.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, will later in the day hear a review petition filed on the matter by the government. The Centre is likely to tell the apex court that dilution of the Act will render it ineffective and prevent the dispensing of justice to the marginalised Dalit and tribal communities.

On March 20, the apex court had introduced the provision of anticipatory bail in the Act while directing that there would be no automatic arrest on any complaint filed under the law.

The Supreme Court said that the change was brought to protect honest public servants discharging duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Act. The apex court said government servants should not be arrested without prior sanction and private citizens, too, should be arrested only after an inquiry under the law.

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