States Brace For Bharat Bandh After Home Ministry Alert: 10 Points
A Bharat Bandh has been called by several groups today. Mobile internet has been snapped in several parts of Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh.
NEW DELHI: The Union home ministry has advised all states to strengthen security and check any possible violence after certain groups called for a Bharat Bandh today against caste-based reservation in jobs and education. While calls for the bandh are being circulated on social media, no group has yet come forward to make it official. The Home Ministry’s advisory was based on intelligence inputs, officials said, adding that it was issued in view of the Bharat Bandh called by Dalit groups last week that saw widespread violence across five states and cost nearly a dozen lives.
Here is your 10-point guide to the Bharat Bandh protest expected today:
- “The home ministry has advised the states to beef up security and make appropriate arrangements to prevent any untoward incident, including issue of prohibitory orders, if necessary,” an official told NDTV.
- In Bihar’s Arrah, clashes between two groups were reported and gunshots were heard this morning, according to news agency ANI. A passenger train was reportedly stopped at Arrah station. Protesters also disrupted road traffic. The states have been asked to intensify patrolling in all sensitive locations so as to prevent any loss of life or damage to property.
- The ministry advisory also said Districts Magistrates and police chiefs will be personally held responsible for any violence in areas under their control.
- In Rajasthan, one of the five states that saw widespread violence, the government has snapped cellphone internet service in Jaipur and Alwar. Prohibitory orders, banning large gatherings, will also be imposed, the police said.
- “No group has come forward to say they are organising a call for a bandh. These messages are doing the rounds in social media,” said Jaipur police chief Sanjay Agarwal. “We are holding meetings with community liaison groups and traders. Nobody will be allowed to take the law into their hands,” he added.
- In Uttar Pradesh, an advisory was issued to all district police chiefs, asking them to ensure that law and order was maintained. Internet has been suspended in Saharanpur from midnight. Extra security forces has been allotted to districts that requested for it, sources said.
- The Bharat Bandh on April 2 was called by Dalit groups that were opposed to a Supreme Court order, which, they said, diluted a law meant for the protection of the community.
- Through the day, widespread violence was reported from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Jharkhand. Six people died in Madhya Pradesh, two in Uttar Pradesh and one in Rajasthan. Several other deaths – two of them hospital-bound patients stuck in bandh-related traffic jams – were reported later.
- The same day, the Centre filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, asking it to review its order regarding the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The court was also asked to put a freeze on its order, which stopped the immediate arrest of anyone accused under the law.
- The court, however, refused to freeze the order, saying, “Our aim is to protect innocents, we have not diluted the law in any manner”. The court said those responsible for the massive Dalit protests, may not have read the earlier order. “The agitations may be held by vested interests,” the judges said.