Dalit groups have “postponed” the nationwide shutdown they had planned to hold on Thursday after the Lok Sabha passed the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018.
The All India Ambedkar Mahasabha, an umbrella organisation of Dalit outfits, had called the shutdown to protest against the Supreme Court’s order in March that diluted the law and prompted massive protests on April 2 in which 11 people died.
However, the government introduced a bill restoring the law’s provisions during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament after the Lok Janshakti Party, a member of the ruling coalition, threatened to join Thursday’s protests. The Lok Sabha passed the bill on August 3.
On Wednesday, the All India Ambedkar Mahasabha said at a press conference in New Delhi that the passage of the amendments marked its “first milestone”. The group said it wants to give the government “reasonable time” to consider its other demands as it “does not believe in unnecessary confrontation”.
The group said the shutdown on April 2 had a widespread impact since it forced even parties, ministers and legislators of the National Democratic Alliance to demand the restoration of the law’s provisions.
On March 20, the Supreme Court passed an order saying a public servant cannot be arrested immediately after a complaint is filed against him under the atrocities law. The court said a public servant can be arrested only with the approval of the the authority that appointed him. The government’s amendment bill said an investigating officer will not require the approval of any authority to arrest an accused.