A mob comprising about 5,000 people on Tuesday set on fire the houses of MLA Rajkumari Jatav and former legislator Bharosilal Jatav in Hindaun city of Rajasthan’s Karauli district. Both of them are Dalits.
Karauli district Collector Abhimanyu Kumar said the authorities imposed a curfew in the area soon after the violence began, PTI reported. While Rajkumari Jatav belongs to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Bharosilal Jatav, who had also served as a minister in the state, is from the Congress.
The incident came a day after at least nine people died and hundreds were detained when violence broke out in several states during protests against a Supreme Court order on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Multiple Dalit organisations had called for a nationwide shutdown.
“Traders’ association and upper castes are agitated in Hindaun city,” Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) NRK Reddy told PTI. “They took out a procession today and tried to enter the SC/ST dominated areas.”
He added: “Police forces lobbed tear gas shells and resorted to cane charging and firing rubber bullets to disperse the mob.” The police detained nearly 40 people in Hindaun city for arson and violence.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to stay its controversial order, which allegedly dilutes the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. It asked all parties to submit detailed replies within two days and will hear the matter again after 10 days. The Supreme Court was hearing the Centre’s review petition challenging the March 20 judgement that protects a public servant from being arrested under the atrocities law without a preliminary inquiry.
What was the SC’s order?
While passing the order on March 20, the Supreme Court said it was aimed at curbing the alleged misuse of the Act. According to its order, no public servant accused under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act can be taken into custody until an officer, not below the rank of deputy superintendent, conducts a preliminary inquiry.
At the time, the bench of justices Adarsh Goel and UU Lalit also said a public servant can be arrested only after the authority that appointed him approves it. The court cited the low conviction rates under the act to infer that the stringent provisions in the law were being misused.
Several leaders across party lines, as well as members of the SC/ST communities criticised the order. While several BJP leaders earlier demanded the review petition, the Congress accused the Centre and the Maharashtra government – parties to the case – of not presenting it properly before the top court.