Bharat Bandh on SC/ST Ruling Gets Mixed Response in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: The Bharat Bandh called by several Dalit outfits against the Supreme Court order diluting the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has got mixed response in different parts of Odisha. 

In Odisha, normal life was partially affected in several areas of tribal-dominated districts, including Malkangiri, Kalahandi, Jharsuguda, Balangir and Sundargarh, with shops and business establishments remained closed. 

The transportation service was affected in several districts in response to the ‘Bharat Bandh’ call against the Supreme Court’s 20 March interpretation of The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. 

In its judgement, the apex court noted that the anti-atrocities law, which protects Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from casteist slurs and discrimination, has become an instrument to “blackmail” innocent citizens and public servants. 

The court has issued several guidelines to protect public servants and private employees from arbitrary arrests under the Atrocities Act. The SC has directed that public servants can only be arrested with the written permission of their appointing authority. In the case of private employees, the senior superintendent of police concerned should allow it.

Several Dalit outfits and some political parties are protesting the ruling, expressing their concerns that the dilution of the provisions may weaken the Dalit communities and cause increase in violence against them.  

In Odisha, Adivasi Dalit Sena, Adhikar Surakhya Manch, the Adivasi Mulabasi Bancaho Manch, and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha are supporting the protests. 

In Madhya Pradesh, five persons were killed and one each died in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan during the protests.

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