Seven dead in massive India caste protests

Protests Dalit Bharat Bandh

It is a pity that the Centre did not move a review petition right away in order to allay the fears of the SC/ST communities and to extend solidarity.

There were reports of clashes with police, blocked trains and roads, and vandalised property in states including Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Bihar. "The government of India with great respect does not agree with the reasoning given by the Supreme Court in the matter", Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters outside Parliament. Around 100 people, including police personnel, have also been injured in the widespread violence that rocked the state on Monday. The police admitted that one person, who died on Monday, had fallen victim to police bullets.

Meerut: Protesters vandalize a police vehicle during "Bharat Bandh" call given by Dalit organisations against the alleged "dilution" of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes act, in Meerut on Monday.

Two persons were reportedly dead due to police firing in Gwalior, one in Bhind and another one in adjoining Morena.

The Opposition Congress held the Narendra Modi Government directly responsible for the weakening of the SC/St Act.

In Nagpur, a large number of protesters took the streets shouting slogans, attempted to stage road blocks and torched a public bus even as police chased away the demonstrators and the fire brigade snuffed out the blaze. The Army and paramilitary forces were also put on standby in Punjab.

Dubbed the "Bharat Bandh" ('close India') movement, nine people were killed in the ensuing violence which also led to railway tracks being blocked and schools, offices and banks closed in some provinces. Several policemen were injured, a police officer said.

The court's guidelines said police can arrest public servants only after getting written permission from their appointing authority.

In recent years, reports of violent incidents against Dalits have increased dramatically, activists say, pointing to incidents in different states across the country where upper-caste mobs often beat or killed lower-caste Indians.

Rahul Prakash, superintendent of police in Alwar in Rajasthan, said two or three people had been hit by bullets during clashes in the city.

Drawing a parallel with the protests against the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's period drama Padmaavat, the minister said that when the Rajputs finally watched the film, they found that there was nothing offensive about the portrayal of Queen Padamavti or Rajputs.

Trouble was also reported in the capital New Delhi.

Discrimination on the basis of caste is outlawed in India but remains widespread across the country.

There are over 200 million Dalits in India. The worst-affected areas in MP were Morar, Thatipur, Maharajpura and Gola Ka Mandir in Gwalior; Gohad, Mehgaon and Lahar in Bhind; and almost the whole of Morena town in Morena district.

Last week a young Dalit boy was beaten to death in the western state of Gujarat, apparently for owning and riding a horse, which is seen as an "upper caste privilege".

Investigation showed that fewer than a tenth of the cases brought by Dalits in 2016 were proved false, according to government data.

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