From 'Prevention of Atrocities Act' to Intolerance
The Dalit groups across the country have called for a ‘National Bandh’ as they were protesting against the verdict of the apex court that dilutes some key provisions in the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act). The protesters blocked rail and road traffic and resorted to violence in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Delhi and other northern states.
The Supreme Court had, on March 20, diluted the provisions of the Act and said government servants should not be arrested without prior sanction and private citizens, too, should be arrested only after an inquiry under the law. The amendment in the law was a bid to protect honest public servants discharging bona fide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Act. Dalit organizations, including the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch and some political parties, fear that the dilution of the provisions of the Act may lead to increase in violence against Dalits.
Though curfews and section 144 were imposed in various places, the unleashed atrocities by the protestors are disrupting the public life. The Army was called in Bhind district, where six people were injured in firing by protesters, to control the situation. The Army and paramilitary forces have been asked to be on standby as a precautionary measure in Punjab. Curfew was imposed in Morena, Gwalior, and Bhind districts of Madhya Pradesh after a student leader died in firing and several others were injured.
While some states ordered closure of educational institutions and curtailed communication and transport services, including rail, incidents of arson and vandalism were reported from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Bihar and among other states.
The NDA government today filed a petition seeking review of the Supreme Court order diluting the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which protects marginalized communities against discrimination and atrocities.
Although many political parties have shown their support for the protest, is violence the extreme solution for all the issues? Why don’t protests can be in such a way that doesn’t affect the public life? Would these acts of arson and vandalizing public properties and leaving the whole country in a panic serve the purpose? Its high time that the society must understand any sort of intolerance will neither bring peace nor resolution to the society.
By: Thamanna Abdul Latheef C