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Protests that swept north India have cost five lives today as Dalit groups tried to enforce an all-India shutdown over a Supreme Court order. In Madhya Pradesh, four people died during clashes and a man was killed in firing in Rajasthan’s Alwat. Violence was also reported from parts of Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh. Punjab came to a standstill as the government put the army on stand-by and transport off the roads.

The Supreme Court had on March 20 “diluted” the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, ruling that the government servants should not be arrested without prior sanction and private citizens, too, be arrested only after an inquiry under the law. The Centre has asked the Supreme Court to review the order.

In Madhya Pradesh, a student leader and four others died during clashes between the police and protesters. Six people were injured in the district and the army was called into Bhind to control the situation. In Gwalior, prohibitory orders banning large gatherings were imposed as protesters blocked railway tracks and set fire to vehicles.

Clashes and arson were reported from cities in Rajasthan, including Jaipur, Barmer and Alwar. In Jharkhand capital Ranchi, the police lathicharged protesters.

Train services were hit in parts of Bihar, Odisha, Punjab and Rajasthan as protesters blocked railway tracks. In some areas, highways were blocked too.

In Punjab, hundreds of protesters carrying swords, sticks, baseball bats and flags forced shops to shut in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda. Traffic in and around Chandigarh was hit as protesters blocked highways and arterial roads.

The Punjab government has taken extensive security measures that include shutting of schools and colleges, postponing Board exams and suspending mobile internet services till 11 pm. Banks and offices are shut and transport is off the roads. Security has been stepped up in towns like Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur, which have the highest Dalit population.

In Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s party, a BJP ally, is supporting the strike. In state capital Patna, hundreds of Bhim Army workers took to the streets to enforce a shutdown. Protests were also held in various towns of Haryana and Bengal capital Kolkata.

In Uttar Pradesh, Meerut saw widespread arson and clashes between police and protesters.

The shutdown has been called by Dalit groups against a Supreme Court order of March 20. Maintaining that the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act law was being misused in certain cases, the Supreme Court changed two key provisions of the law, stopping the immediate arrest an accused and introducing a provision for bail. Dalit groups said the court could have come to a different conclusion had the Union government highlighted the high rate of atrocities on the community and the abysmally low rate of conviction. Most opposition parties, including the Congress, have sided with the Dalits.

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4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Red News | Protestation

  2. Sally Dugman says:

    In my opinion, casteism, racism, classism and a lot of other -isms serve as thinly veiled excuses for keeping a certain group of people in power, money, control and privilege at the expense of others, especially the ones who are marginalized. … My problems with some protests are when the dissidents sometimes burn, loot and otherwise harm personal property, such as has sometimes happened in the USA during our race riots and other riots. … I welcome people working forcefully to change the corrupt social order, but not by any means available. Otherwise tragedy surely results.

    • Sally Dugman says:

      I, of course, have a problem with violence, murder and harm caused by one side or both in a social justice or environmental conflict. Yet, I also have a problem with protesters, others or government forces blocking roads and highways. … What if I am taking my desperately ill, almost dying baby to the hospital? What if my elderly grandmother is in severe pain from a tooth and I am taking her to the dentist? … Why should I be impeded as happened in and around Sacramento or in other locations around the world where protests occur? … By all means protest. I welcome it when the cause is righteous and moral, and may even join you in your attempt to right wrongs. Yet let me pass if I need to do so!

      Sacramento Police Protesters Shut Down Highway – The Crime Report
      https://thecrimereport.org/2018/03/…/sacramento-police-protesters-shut-down-highwa…
      Mar 23, 2018 – Hundreds of protesters of the police killing of a young, unarmed black man blocked most ticket holders from entering the downtown arena for a Sacramento Kings game. In the end, there were no arrests and, aside from a few scuffles, little violence.
      Sideshows Shuts Down Streets, Highway In Sacramento « CBS …

      Video for sacramento shut down highway

      sacramento.cbslocal.com/…/3761451-sideshows-shuts-down-streets-h…
      Angela Musallam has the latest on the sideshows that caused traffic backups and dozens of citations to be …

  3. Pingback: Dalit Protest Paralyse India: Five Dead – Journal of People