THE Union Home Ministry on Monday issued a nationwide advisory to ensure that adequate security measures are put in place to prevent any violence during the Bharat Bandh called on April 10 against caste-based reservation in education and jobs.
The bandh call has not been endorsed by any major outfit but comes just eight days after nine people were killed in widespread violence during a similar call issued by Dalit groups protesting against the Supreme Court order on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Separate security alerts have also been issued in a number of states, particularly in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan from where the deaths were reported on April 2. The latest bandh call does not seem to have gained much traction among states in south, west and north-east India, officials said. “The Home Ministry has advised states to raise security and make appropriate arrangements, including prohibitory orders if necessary, to prevent any untoward incident,” an official said. The advisory has asked states to intensify patrolling in sensitive locations.
Security sources said calls for an anti-quota bandh started circulating on social media after the protest on April 2. Little-known groups, such as Sarv Samaj from Rajasthan, have also issued statements calling for the bandh. In MP, where six people were killed last week, district officials in Gwalior, Bhind and Morena have ordered schools and colleges to remain shut on Tuesday. Curfew will be enforced across Bhind, while prohibitory orders will remain in Gwalior and Morena.
Bhind collector Ilayaraja T said while no outfit has openly endorsed the bandh call, a flag march was conducted on Monday. In UP’s Hapur, the district magistrate has ordered Internet services be suspended from 6 pm Monday to 6 pm Tuesday. In Meerut, where two people were killed on April 2, police summoned office-bearers of 10 organisations, including Akhil Bharatiya Kshatriya Mahasabha, Singh Sena, Jaat Mahasabha and Rajput Mahasabha, to ensure peace. Sources said many of those called for the meeting expressed ignorance about the bandh call.
In Saharanpur, which saw clashes between Dalits and Thakurs last year, Internet services have been suspended indefinitely beginning Monday.
“No big outfit has come out in support of the bandh. But we are keeping a close watch,” UP DGP O P Singh said.
In Rajasthan, mobile internet services in Jaipur will remain suspended from 10 pm Monday to 10 pm Tuesday and prohibitory orders under Section 144 have been imposed, said Prafulla Kumar, ACP (crime). “Karni Sena has not called for a bandh but we are not responsible if any individual decides to act on his own,” said Mahipal Singh Makrana, state president, Shree Rajput Karni Sena.
Police are on alert in Punjab and Haryana, where last week’s bandh led to clashes in Kaithal. In Gujarat, there have been no open calls for a bandh, although Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani has already warned of a “counter-protest” on April 14, B R Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. Mevani also urged all Dalit and tribal MPs to resign in order to build pressure on the Centre.
Police in Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu said they have not received reports of any call for a bandh.
(With inputs from ENS in Bhopal, Lucknow, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kochi)