The impact of a nationwide strike called by Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad was felt in some parts of India on Sunday, News18 reported. The bandh was supported by some political parties, including Shivpal Yadav’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia in Uttar Pradesh and Tejashwi Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar.
Azad had called for a bandh on February 23 to protest against the Supreme Court’s verdict earlier this month that reservations in promotions are not a fundamental right according to the Constitution, and that the states have the option to decide whether to provide them. The bandh is also a demonstration the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register.
Congress Scheduled Caste Department Chairperson Nitin Raut also backed the call. “To save the Constitution and to save the reservation, I whole-heartedly support the Bharat Bandh given on 23rd February,” Raut tweeted. “Reservation is our pride, respect and our constitutional rights and we cannot let it go at any cost. Long live Constitution. Jai Bhim.”
The Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samta Party, Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awami Morcha, and Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party have also supported the strike, The Indian Express reported.
In Seelampur-Jaffrabad area of Delhi, which had seen protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, thousands of women blocked the road outside Jaffarabad metro station around 12:30 am on Sunday. In response, Azad retweeted a user who said: “It is still almost six hours to sunrise but the mothers and sisters of Seelampur have blown the bugle of Bharat Bandh.” Azad will travel to Aurangabad in Maharashtra to encourage his supporters to enforce a nationwide strike.
Early on Sunday, Azad appealed to his supporters not to indulge in violence. He alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party will try to provoke his supporters, but added that they should not pay heed.
On Saturday, Azad hoisted the triclour in front of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh headquarters in Nagpur and also addressed a “tiranga rally”. He called for a ban on the RSS but simultaneously asked the organisation to contest elections.
Meanwhile, the police in Meerut district in Uttar Pradesh are on high alert and are monitoring social media, The Times of India reported. “Keeping in mind the happenings of social media-driven Bharat Bandh on April 2 [in 2018], we are definitely on high alert and our eyes are on potential troublemakers,” Additional Director General of Police (Meerut Zone) Prashant Kumar said. At least nine people had died in Meerut and Muzaffarpur districts on April 2, 2018.
The police are also conducting meetings with Dalit outfits, especially in Saharanpur, where there are a large number of members of the Dalit community. Saharanpur Senior Superintendent of Police Dinesh Kumar P said the outfits have been allowed to hold peaceful protests but not resort to violence.
Hapur Superintendent of Police Sanjiv Suman has cancelled the leaves of all police personnel.