A call for a 'Bharat Bandh' to protest against the Supreme Court order allegedly 'diluting' the SC/ST Protection Act was hijacked by violent and politically-motivated elements on Monday as weapons replaced slogans, stones were hurled, fires were lit and chaos was unleashed.
(A man hurls a stone at a police officer while vehicles burn outside the Police station - Alwar)
In the hours of “protest” shocking footage emerged of what was nothing short of organised rioting across the country. In Bihar, Punjab, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and other states, “protesting” mobs went on the rampage with no regard for safety or public property. Four persons have been killed at the time of publishing -- two at Gwalior, one at Morena and one at Guna. 'Protestors' have been seen toting rifles and pistols.
('Protestors' toting guns)
As the violence escalated in the name of protest, our teams asked the “protesters”, 'What are you protesting about?'. They had no answer.
(A bus burning in Azamgarh)
The “protest” was against the Supreme Court order, but as early in the day as noon, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had already announced that the Centre had filed its review plea with regard to the March 20 judgment of the apex court that had introduced the provision of anticipatory bail in the SC/ST Protection Act while directing that there would be no automatic arrest on any complaint filed under the law. Therefore, the entire premise for the 'protest' was completely lost as the mobs' leaders seemed unaware of the developments in New Delhi.
(Scenes from Meerut)
Unruly mobs ran riot in towns and cities across the country, goaded by politicians who saw in the mayhem an opportunity to further their own ends at the expense of public property and civic order.
(Carnage in Gwalior)
Despite the statement of intent from the Modi government, opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, had levelled anti-Dalit allegations against the Centre, thereby encouraging, legitimising and adding a political hue to the demonstrations. Some, like Tejashwi Yadav and Jitan Ram Manjhi, even joined in.
"Keeping Dalits at the lowest rung of Indian society is in the DNA of the Modi government. Those who challenge this philosophy face violence.
Our Dalit brothers and sisters are on the streets today asking the Modi government to safeguard their rights.
We salute them."