Bharat bandh over SC/ST ruling: Trains blocked, exams postponed in Punjab

Bharat Bandh: Curfew in Jaipur, Odisha, Bhopal, parts of UP; trains stopped in Bihar.

New Delhi, April 02: Protests in some parts of India was witnessed by Dalit outfits on Monday, as they called for ‘Bharat bandh’ to protest against a recent Supreme Court ruling diluting the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The court, in its ruling, prohibited automatic arrest and registration in cases of alleged harassment of SCs and STs.

Media reports said Dalits blocked trains in Bihar and Odisha and Board exams were postponed in Punjab.

The Dalits blocked movement of trains in Odisha’s Sambalpur on Monday. They also stopped trains at Ara in Bhojpur district of Bihar. Raising slogans against the ruling of the Supreme Court they said they would fight tooth and nail against its order.

The Bharat bandh has crippled normal life in Punjab. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) postponed the board exams scheduled for April 2 and transport services suspended.

According to a report in Indian Express several army units have been kept on a standby, should the situation take an ugly turn. The Punjab government suspended Internet services in the state on Sunday and would remain so through Monday.

Meanwhile, the Centre has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against diluting the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The Centre is likely to tell the apex court that dilution of the Act will render it ineffective and prevent the dispensing of justice to the marginalised Dalit and tribal communities. The court is likely to hear the matter in the day on Monday.

Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot on Sunday had said Supreme Court’s decision on SC/ST Protection Act would not be able to provide justice to the suppressed people, and those accused and deserving of punishment would be saved. He had said the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was committed to saving the rights of Dalits.