Bharat Bandh: Govt caught lying, violence to discredit Dalits

Even as Bharat Bandh turned violent, the Government was again caught lying while claiming that it was not a party in the case before the Supreme Court in which provisions of SC/ST Act were diluted

NH photo by Vipin
NH photo by Vipin

NH Web Desk

At least six people (Nine according to TV 18), most of them Dalits, were killed in violent incidents across several states following a nation-wide Bharat Bandh call given by Dalit organisations to protest against the Supreme Court’s ruling diluting the stringent provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Curfew was imposed in Bhind and Morena in Madhya Pradesh. Train services were affected across north India and widespread violence were reported from Gujarat, MP, Rajasthan, UP and Punjab.

  • The Government action in filing a Review Petition during the day was seen as too little and too late. Questions were raised on why the Government could not issue an Ordinance to restore the provisions first and why it could not file the petition earlier.
  • Questions are also being raised why the Government did not invite Dalit organisations for talks to defuse the crisis ahead of the Bandh.
  • Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s contention that the Union Government was not a party to the case before the Supreme Court was found to be false and Supreme Court reporters were quick to point out that Additional Solicitor General Maninder Kumar represented the Government of India and was heard by the court.
  • Among the six killed, four were reported killed in Madhya Pradesh, one in Rajasthan and one in Uttar Pradesh.
  • In Gwalior, Dalit activist Devashish Jarariya claimed that a strongman of Gwalior, Raja Singh Chauhan, had opened fire and killed at least three Dalits, ironically to discredit the Bandh supporters. After he posted photographs and a video of the alleged criminal act, he sought police protection. Several activists pleaded with Madhya Pradesh chief minister to provide Jarariya and his family with adequate security.

  • The Supreme Court Bench had diluted the provisions of the Act last month and accepted the plea that the Act was being misused to harass innocent people.
  • The court ruled that unlike existing provisions, no arrest should be made under the Act without a preliminary inquiry and within seven days. It also lifted the ban on anticipatory bail under the Act and directed that public servants could not be prosecuted under the Act unless the appointing authority sanctioned it.
  • Dalit organisations protested by pointing out that even according to NCRB ( National crime record Bureau), the conviction rate under the Act was merely 15% in 2016.
  • They also pointed out that while the Supreme Court bench cited NCRB data of the same year that said that 5,347 cases in 2016 filed under the Act were found to be false, the total number of cases filed that year was 40,801.
  • NCRB data also indicate that atrocities and violence on Dalits have been on the rise after 2014 and that the highest number of cases were reported in 2016 from the five states of Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

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