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Bharat Bandh over SC/ST act: 9 killed as protest turn violent, Centre monitoring situation

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    Six people were killed in Madhya Pradesh, two in Uttar Pradesh and one in Rajasthan in the wake of the nationwide shutdown call given by Dalits that are protesting against the Supreme Court verdict on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

    Thousands were detained following widespread incidents of arson, firing and vandalism across over ten states, several of them being BJP-ruled including Madhya Pradesh where at least six persons died during the protests against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

    Other states hit with violence included Punjab, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra and Delhi. Those arrested included a former BSP MLA in UP.

    Meanwhile, in the face of stiff pressure from both within the NDA and opposition, Union Law Ministry filed a review petition in the Supreme Court on the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act verdict.

    Deependra Pathak, Spokesperson, Delhi Police on Bharat Bandh over SC/ST protection act said,''Delhi Police is alert. We have adequate police deployment at places & senior officials are also present in the field. All steps will be taken to maintain law & order.''

    "One can understand if people are protesting but why are opposition parties playing politics? Parties like Congress, who did not give the Bharat Ratna to BR Ambedkar, are now acting like his followers," says union minister Ram Vilas Paswan.

    MHA closely monitoring the situation and is in constant touch with states; central forces made available: Ministry spokesperson.

    States asked to take preventive steps and maintain public order to ensure safety of lives and property: Home ministry on Dalit agitation.

    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.

    Mobile internet services are down in Amritsar and other parts of Punjab as Home Minister Rajnath Singh has called for peace. "We have filed a review petition in the Supreme Court. I appeal to all political parties to cooperate so that no untoward incident takes place due to protest," said Rajnath.

    News agency ANI is reporting that one person has died in Morena and curfew has been imposed in the area. Section 144 has also been imposed in parts of Gwalior and Sagar in Madhya Pradesh.

    Speaking on the issue, UP CM Yogi Adityanath said,''Law & order should not get disturbed with these protests. Our government is serious about Dalits' progress and their development. I appeal to them to take care of the law and order.''

    "We were not part of the initial Supreme Court judgment. We have come up with a strong, comprehensive review petition and filed it in the apex court. "We, the government, do not agree with the judgment of the Supreme Court. We are committed to the Dalits. We want Dalits to progress and we are at their service," says Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

    Meanwhile, Congress Rahul Gandhi tweeted,"Keeping Dalits at the bottom of the society is in the RSS/BJP's DNA. Those who challenge this thinking, they suppress them with violence. Thousands of Dalit siblings are now on the streets demanding protection of their rights from the Modi government. We salute them."

    In Rajasthan, Protesters have stopped a train in Jaipur.

    In Madhya Pradesh, many shops and petrol pumps being vandalised. In Mathura, protestors are forcing shops to close down. Meanwhile, in Hapur, busses have been vandalised and an address board outside the house of a judge has also been broken.

    In support of the Bharat Bandh protests, students have called for effigy burning of PM Modi. The protests will be observed at Aurobindo College, Arts Faculty in North Campus, Satyawati College and Jamia University.

    In UP districts, violent protest being reported from Agra, Saharanpur, Meerut, Bagpat on the issue of the amendment in SC/ST Act. In Agra, bikes were torched; in Saharanpur, some buses were vandalised & torched. In the state capital, Lucknow, things are peaceful as of now

    In Meerut, Dalit protestors have reached the Delhi-Haridwar highway. Reports claim that thousands have also reached railway tracks and will try to stop trains. Many have reached the main junctions of the city and are protesting there. Slogans of Jai Bheem are being raised by the sit-in protestors.

    In Odisha, the first reports of protestors stopping train came from Sambalpur.

    The Punjab government on Sunday ordered closure of all educational institutions on Monday and took public transport off the roads. It also suspended Internet services from 5 pm Sunday till 11 pm Monday and requested Army to remain on "stand-by".

    Meanwhile, 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 in view of 'Bharat Bandh' called by several Dalit organisations against the alleged "dilution" of the SCs/STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

    The next date of the examinations in Punjab will be announced soon by the board, it added.

    Mobile internet services in the state were suspended from 5 pm on Sunday till Monday evening in a bid to check rumour-mongering on the social media.

    The Supreme Court had on March 20 diluted the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, in a bid to protect honest public servants discharging bona fide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Act.

    OneIndia News (with PTI inputs)

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