On April 2, several Dalit organizations called for a nationwide ‘bandh’ against the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
However, things took violent turn after Dalit groups tried to enforce an all-India shutdown over the Supreme Court order. On March 20, 2018, the Supreme Court had banned arrests and registration of criminal cases under Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, resulting in a huge outcry from Dalit community.
The bandh resulted in protesters clashing with police in parts of Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Seven people have been killed in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and UP. Punjab came to a virtual standstill as the government shut schools, strengthened security, and put the army on stand-by.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh appealed to all political parties to help in maintaining harmony among different sections of the society.
Protesters carried swords, sticks, baseball bats, guns and flags forcing everyone to shut down their shops and other establishments in many cities across the country. There are also the reports of shooting and clashes with police forces.
Amidst all this, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi took the opportunity to slam the BJP and RSS for suppressing the voices of Dalits in the country. He tweeted:
दलितों को भारतीय समाज के सबसे निचले पायदान पर रखना RSS/BJP के DNA में है। जो इस सोच को चुनौती देता है उसे वे हिंसा से दबाते हैं।
हजारों दलित भाई-बहन आज सड़कों पर उतरकर मोदी सरकार से अपने अधिकारों की रक्षा की माँग कर रहे हैं।
हम उनको सलाम करते हैं।#BharatBandh
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) 2 April 2018
However, a group of BJP ministers soon launched an attack on Rahul Gandhi and his party following his tweet. Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Dr Thawarchand Gehlot defended his government saying that the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre is committed towards the “holistic” development of the SCs and the STs of the country.
It has been our Govt which further strengthened the protection for backward castes by passing The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015.
— Dr. Thawarchand Gehlot (@TCGEHLOT) April 2, 2018
Twitterati too came in and expressed their opinions:
— Anjana Om Kashyap (@Anjanaomksyp) April 2, 2018
— bhavsar rupesh (@GmRupesh31) April 2, 2018
It is well known that Congress gained in Gujarat because of Dalit flogging who knows if this is part of Cambridge Alalytica’s strategy? I also created a Jignesh Mewani.
— Salil Mathur (@Saliltoday) April 2, 2018
#BharatBandh पे 2-4 Tweet करके आग में घी डालने वाला काम करूंगा फिर छोटा भीम के Back to Back Episodes देखूँगा 😌 😌
— नीतू 🇮🇳👍🇮🇳👍 (@neetu097) April 2, 2018
हाय अल्लाह आप को कैसे पता 😜😜 pic.twitter.com/vfM4nzbWVQ
— विकास देवासी (@VikasDewasi1) April 2, 2018
60 सालो में अगर आपने सचमुच कुछ किया होता दलितों के लिए तो , उनकी स्थिस्ती जस की तस नहीं होती ।
ज्ञान ना दे कृपया
— Arun kumar Yadav (@Arunkumar9727) April 2, 2018