Former Union minister Sharad Yadav on Tuesday hailed the Bharat bandh called by Dalit groups, saying for the first time in centuries the Dalits came out on the streets in large numbers demanding their rights prescribed in the Constitution.
Yadav, while speaking at a public meeting on 'Social Justice after Mandal Commission' at the JNU here, termed the Supreme Court's verdict on the SC/ST Atrocities Act as "unjust".
"There will be no other country in the world which has kept such a major chunk of population...the way oppressed communities are living in India," he said.
"This was the first time in centuries that the most marginalised sections -- the Dalits -- came out on the streets in large numbers demanding rights prescribed in the Constitution. They have also realised their strength in numbers," he said, adding that it was a historic event.
"I pay condolences to those who were killed in the violence yesterday whether they were Dalits or non-Dalits," he added.Violent protests broke out in several states yesterday, as Dalit organisations spearheaded a Bharat bandh, alleging that the Supreme Court had diluted the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
"Ambedkar's stand has been vindicated. He had said whatever is written in Constitution becomes meaningless if people who are meant to implement those provisions do not have the intention to do so. As time passes his words are becoming more relevant," Yadav said.
The Supreme Court verdict is not just, the former Union minister said.
The ex-Rajya Sabha MP urged all parties to come together to defeat the BJP in 2019 elections.
"Justice will not come to you not even through this movement because the state apparatus is in their (BJP) hands. They will declare yesterday as a day of injustice (because of violence). They are the ones operating the system," he said.
"All parties have to come together to make BJP lose. It is important to save democracy. You have the power of ballot to defeat the BJP in 2019. If they win, you would not be able to organise such meetings anymore," he told students.
"Dalits are most deprived section of our society, the country cannot progress till they progress. And all other communities have to stand with them," he said.
Yadav had parted ways with Bihar chief minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar, following the latter's alliance with the BJP last year.