Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party said on Friday it will join the protests called by Dalit organisations against the government on August 9 if the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is not restored. This comes after MP Chirag Paswan on Thursday warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the upcoming protests could get “fiercer and sharper” than the agitation in April.
The Lok Janshakti Party has demanded an ordinance to restore the original provisions of the SC/ST Act for over four months now and has also opposed the Centre’s appointment of Justice AK Goel as chairperson of the National Green Tribunal.
“We are running out of patience as no action has been taken to restore the act as yet,” MP Chirag Paswan said during a press conference, according to Hindustan Times.
He said some organisations have announced a “large-scale” protest on August 9, similar to the agitation on April 2. “We want the government to bring an ordinance to restore the act before that,” Chirag Paswan said. “Our Dalit Sena will take to the streets if it is not done.”
Dalit organisations had called for a nationwide shutdown on April 2 after the Supreme Court bench in March diluted the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Justice AK Goel was on the Supreme Court bench which delivered the order. At least 11 people died and hundreds were detained during the protests.
“We wanted [the] Centre to bring an ordinance about SC/ST Act,” Paswan told ANI on Friday. “But it couldn’t be done now so we’ve asked Centre to reintroduce it as a bill in the Parliament on August 7 [and] restore the previous law.”
Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan too wrote a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, saying several Dalit MPs of the National Democratic Alliance have “expressed concern” over the Goel’s appointment.