At least nine people were killed on Monday in the violence that broke out during the countrywide protests called by several Dalit organisations against a Supreme Court order on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The Uttar Pradesh Police detained more than 200 people in Meerut and said they would be booked under the National Security Act. The Meerut Police said a former Bahujan Samaj Party legislator was the main conspirator behind the violence in the city. In Jharkhand, the police detained over 1,600 people in Ranchi and East Singhbhum districts.

The police in Punjab and Haryana baton-charged protestors as violence broke out at some places. Two people were injured in Bathinda while several vehicles and a shop were damaged in Kapurthala. The protest turned violent in Barmer in Rajasthan, where cars were set on fire and properties were damaged.

On March 20, the Supreme Court framed several guidelines that limited the Act. This included making it necessary to get permission from higher authorities to file a case under the SC/ST Act against public servants. A bench of Justices UU Lalit and AK Goel said the act was being used to blackmail innocent citizens and public servants, and that it should not be used to “perpetuate casteism”.

The court made these comments as it observed that the law had resulted in public servants being harassed and prevented from offering even basic criticism to their Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe employees.

The top court’s order drew immense criticism from Dalit and Adivasi groups, and various political parties. The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry filed a review petition on Monday challenging the order.

Here are six articles on the atrocities faced by Dalits and what the dilution of the SC/ST Act means:

  • Supreme Court says SC/ST Atrocities Act is misused. So what explains the low conviction rates?: The National Crime Records Bureau’s data for the 10-year period from 2007 to 2016 shows an average conviction rate of 28.8 in crimes against Scheduled castes and 25.2 in crimes against Scheduled tribes.
  • By diluting SC/ST Atrocities Act, Supreme Court undermines Dalit and Adivasi struggles for dignity: In worrying about the liberty of the privileged, the judges may have forgotten that caste is anti-liberty.
  • At Mumbai’s Ramabai colony, Dalit protestors say they face discrimination every day: The community wants the people who attacked its members in Bhima Koregaon arrested immediately.
  • Protests around SC/ST act dilution are a warning about dangers of judicial overreach: Monday’s violence could have been avoided if the courts had left the legislating up to the elected legislators.
  • Why the Dalit event at Bhima Koregaon rankles upper castes: The claim that so-called untouchables can also display valour undermines the very basis of the caste system.  
  • ‘This is a plot to divide us’, say Dalits from the frontlines of the Maharashtra bandh: Protestors complained about media partisanship and attempts to drive a wedge between them and other non-Brahmins.