The protest was organised against the Supreme Court’s new guidelines which dilute the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Bharat Bandh Dalits protest peacefully across AP Jagan writes to PM on SCST ActBy arrangement
news Protest Monday, April 02, 2018 - 18:48

The Bharat Bandh called on Monday by several Dalit organisations against the Supreme Court’s recent guidelines against the ‘misuse’ of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act saw protests across Andhra Pradesh as activists took to the streets.

While protests in Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan turned violent, in AP, Dalit activists and students participated in peaceful protests across the state.  

YSR Congress Party chief and leader of Opposition Jagan Mohan Reddy has written to the President and the Prime Minister demanding that steps be taken to ensure the Supreme Court hears the review petition on the Act as soon as possible.

In his letter, he also said that the decision would damage the spirit of the SC/ST Act, and the guidelines would only make Dalits feel more insecure.

“This restraint on arresting the accused immediately may help the accused powerful rather than the vulnerable victim, and may hamper the investigation process,” it read.

Several places in Krishna, Guntur and Ongole districts saw demonstrations by activists. In Gudivada of Krishna district, several protestors affiliated with the Viduthulai Chiruthaigal Katchi and the Bahujan Samaj Party were arrested.

In Ongole, the Bahujana Rachayitala Vedika staged protests at Dharna Chowk, along with the Congress, Left parties, the Dalit Mahasabha, Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) New Democracy and Kula Vivaksha Porata Samiti, among others.  

On Monday, the Centre moved the top court, asking it to review the guidelines. However, the apx court refused to the petition urgently as sought by the All India Federation of SC/ST organisations, a conglomerate of nearly 150 employees groups.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said that the petition will be heard in due course of time.

Speaking to TNM, K Mallikarjun, PDSU leader, said, “This decision will subvert the purpose of the Act. A review petition must be moved.”

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India participated in a rally, led by Dalit groups, in Vijayawada.

CH Babu Rao, a member of the CPM, told TNM, “This move by the Supreme Court needs to be challenged … We demand the government file a review petition against this. The government must remember that the law is not being implemented properly to begin with. This move by the court is against the spirit of the Constitution.”

AP Congress spokesperson Kolanukonda Shivaji told TNM that any move to subvert the Constitutional safeguards of Dalits or tribals will not be tolerated.

Transport facilities were not affected in the state, and schools and commercial organisations continued to function as per usual.

Read: ‘Retrograde move’: Activists slam top court’s directives on ‘misuse’ of SC/ST Act

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