9 die in Dalit protest: BJP, Oppn leaders resort to blame game

New Delhi, Apr 2: At least nine people were killed – four in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh – in the nationwide bandh called by Dalit organisations on Monday.
Reports of violence and arson were reported from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh – where one person died each in Alwar and Muzaffarnagar as the protest turned violent and protestors resorted to stone pelting and damaged properties across various states.
The Union Home Ministry said it is monitoring the situation while Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed “deep pain” by the acts of violence and “loss of precious lives”.
“The Govt. of India is committed to ensuring welfare of SC/STs and other weaker sections and also guaranteeing them full protection of law. The Govt. has already filed a review petition in the Supreme Court to maintain the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act in its present form,” Singh tweeted.
He appealed to all political parties to help in maintaining harmony among different sections of the society.
“I also appeal to the people, not to fall prey to rumours and false propaganda unleashed by mischievous elements,” Home Minister posted.
At various locals protestors blocked rail and road traffic and shops were also closed.
In Jharkhand over 750 people detained in Ranchi district. Reports of arson also came from Punjab.
The Opposition Congress held the Narendra Modi Government directly responsible for the weakening of the SC/St Act. ‘When the case on the SC/ST Act was going on in the Supreme court, the Centre did not make efforts to defend the stand of the Government in the court,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
BSP supremo Mayawati also blamed the government for not being able to handle the agitation.
CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted saying, “From Rohith Vemula to Una flogging and destruction of Ambedkar statues, we have seen how this govt has dealt with issues pertaining to Dalits. RSS – BJP ideology has been the driving force in targeting of Dalits in this regime”.
The Congress president Rahul Gandhi had tweeted in the morning hours alleging that that it is in the ‘DNA of RSS/BJP’ to keep Dalits in the “lowest rung”, and those who oppose this, are violently suppressed.
Predictably, Gandhi’s comments provoked strong reactions from the government and senior BJP leaders.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar for his part wrote in the micro blogging site:
“If anyone is anti-dalit in this country, it is @INCIndia & the Nehru Family. Father of the Constitution, #BabsahebAmbedkar was defeated twice in Lok Sabha elections by Shri @RahulGandhi ‘s family & Congress Party. It is a sin committed by Congress against Dalits”.
He further said – “In past 3.5 yrs, under leadership of our PM @narendramodi ji, Govt of India has developed 5 places of importance in Babasaheb’s life – Janmabhumi, Karmabhumi, Deekshabhumi Chaityabhumi, Shikshabhumi -as National Monuments or ‘Panchateerthas’.”
BJP leader Bhupender Yadav went onto the extent of comparing opposition parties with “political vultures”.
“As soon as some friction happens, our political vultures immediately come out to extract political advantage. We expected nothing better from Sh Rahul Gandhi. All that he & his party has done & can do, is to exploit the Dalits for petty political gains,’ tweeted BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav, also a trusted aide of BJP national chief Amit Shah.
In many places, police opened fire to control the situation.
Hundreds of protesters carrying swords, sticks, baseball bats and flags forced shopkeepers and other establishments to shut down in several cities of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Dalits continue to be deprived of their basic rights under the Modi government. (UNI)

PATNA, APR 2 (UNI):-Members of Bhim Army Sena stopping a train at Patna junction during Bharat Bandh against the dilution of provisions of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Act, in Patna on Monday. UNI PHOTO-54U