New Delhi, April 2: Six persons were killed and dozens injured as Dalit protests during a day-long tion-wide shutdown on Monday turned violent in India amid anger against a Supreme Court order that dilutes a law aimed at preventing atrocities against Dalits and Tribes.
The government, in a bid to pacify the agitated activists, said it had filed a petition in the apex court seeking a review of its March 20 order that bars automatic arrest and registration of cases for alleged harassment of Dalits and others. But the top court denied an urgent hearing of the matter. Protesters clashed with police in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha — states where normal life was paralysed in varying degrees amid incidences of violence and arson. The central government rushed 800 anti-riot policemen to violence-hit Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. A Home Ministry official in Delhi said two companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) were sent to Meerut and one company each to Agra and Hapur in Uttar Pradesh.
Clashes turned deadly in Madhya Pradesh where five persons were killed and dozens injured, forcing officials to impose curfew in More, Gwalior and Bhind districts. Protests were also held Bhopal as agitators blocked roads in the state capital. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan made a passiote appeal for peace.
Police said one person each was killed in Bhind and More while three died in Gwalior. The dead in More was identified as Rahul Pathak, a student leader. Gwalior District Magistrate Rahul Jain told IANS that at least 22 persons were injured, some critically, in clashes in his district, where prohibitory orders banning large gatherings were also imposed.
Punjab and Harya also saw widespread protests. Protests also took place in Rohtak and other towns of neighbouring Harya. In Bihar, activists disrupted rail and road traffic. Mobs shut down markets and shops as well as educatiol institutions, police said. Supporters of the Bhim Army and other Dalit outfits halted over three dozen long-distance and local trains, stranding thousands of passengers. (IANS)