The Madhya Pradesh government imposed prohibitory orders in four districts on Thursday after several organisations called for a shutdown to protest against Parliament’s amendment to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, reported The Indian Express.
The amendment reverses the Supreme Court’s order in March that diluted the Act’s provisions. The order – saying a public servant cannot be arrested immediately after a complaint is filed against him under the atrocities law – had prompted massive protests by mainly Dalit groups on April 2. At least 11 people were killed in the protests that day. According to the amendment, an investigating officer will not require the approval of any authority to arrest an accused.
A high alert was issued in 35 districts across Madhya Pradesh in view of the protests, reported ANI. Around 34 companies of security forces and 5,000 security personnel have been deployed in the state.
The state administration had imposed prohibitory orders in Morena, Shivpuri and Bhind – all three in Gwalior-Chambal region – and in Ashok Nagar district, reported News 18. Violence was reported in the Gwalior Chambal region during the April 2 Bharath bandh.
Today’s all-India strike was called by upper caste organisations and Other Backward Classes groups after days of protests in Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Mandsaur and Neemuch districts in Madhya Pradesh. Protestors picketed legislators in these districts and raised slogans against the Centre and the Bharatiya Janata Party for voting in favour of the amendment.
Most private schools, petrol pumps, markets and businesses were closed on Thursday in view of the bandh, according to The Indian Express. The police said the bandh was observed peacefully.
In Bihar, train services were briefly affected in Patna. Several protesters tried to march to Bharatiya Janata Party state headquarters as well as towards its ally Janata Dal (United)’s office.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath said the protest call had no meaning. However, he said, people have the “right to express themselves” in a democracy, according to PTI. “The BJP government is committed towards the welfare of people and development,” Adityanath added. “We never play politics of caste and religion. The law is to protect the downtrodden. The government will ensure that it will not be misused.”
On Wednesday, protestors staged a demonstration outside the bungalows of Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar at Gwalior and MP Bhagirath Prasad at Bhind, reported The Times of India. Protestors also staged a demonstration at higher education minister Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya’s bungalow at Gwalior.
“Bring a sword and slit my throat,” BJP MP Riti Pathak told protestors who stopped her vehicle in Biohari on Monday. Biohari is part of the Sidhi constituency, which she represents. “I tried to reason with them for half-an-hour. I told them I was not the only person voting, my presence or absence would have made no difference [to the passage of the Bill], but they continued to argue,” she told the The Indian Express, admitting that it would impact campaigning.
Madhya Pradesh police chief Makrand Deuskar said they have “alerted all superintendents of police in view of the proposed bandh on September 6”. He told PTI that police forces allotted to districts for security on the occasion of Krishna Janmashtami on Monday will continue to remain in place.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had on Wednesday ordered district collectors to monitor the law and order situation, reported News18.