In MP and UP, pro-, anti-bandh groups, police open fire; extra forces deployed

Caste divide is very prominent in the Gwalior-Chambal belt, which bore the brunt of the violence in MP. Gwalior, Morena and Bhind districts have a very high percentage of licensed gun-holders, and illegal weapons abound.

By: Express News Service | Bhopal | Updated: April 3, 2018 10:43:44 am
In the wake of Dalit organisations’ call for a nationwide strike (Bharath bandh) in protest against the alleged dilution of SCST Atrocities Act, the government has moved a review petition in the Supreme Court today. (Visuals from Ahmedabad/Express Photo by Javed Raja)

Bhopal

Milind Ghatwai

Six people were killed and several others sustained gunshot wounds as the bandh called by Dalit organisations against the alleged dilution of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act turned violent in Madhya Pradesh on Monday. Many more, including police officials, were injured in clashes in Morena, Gwalior and Bhind, forcing authorities to clamp curfew in parts of these districts and impose prohibitory orders in Sagar, Datia and Balaghat districts.  Tension prevailed in other parts of the state but no major incident was reported.

ALSO READ: 9 killed as angry Dalits take to the streets, Madhya Pradesh most affected

Caste divide is very prominent in the Gwalior-Chambal belt, which bore the brunt of the violence in MP. Gwalior, Morena and Bhind districts have a very high percentage of licensed gun-holders, and illegal weapons abound.

IG (law and order) Makrand Deuskar said all the deaths and injuries resulted from gunshots, fired either by the protesters or those against the bandh. He said police fired in air at two places but no one was injured. He said police will await postmortem reports before making any definite comment on gunshot wounds. Internet services in Morena, Gwalior, Bhind and Sagar districts were discontinued in the wake of violence.

Explained: Rising pendency, falling convictions: what data on SC/ST Act trials show

The deceased were identified as Rakesh Jatav and Deepak Jatav from Gwalior; Mahavir Rajawat (Bhind); Rahul Pathak (Morena), a student leader; Aakash Garg from Bhind, who was referred to Gwalior in critical condition and died during treatment; and Bimal Prasad from Gwalior. Sixteen companies of Special Armed Force, four companies of Rapid Action Force and two companies of Special Task Force were sent to troubled districts —3,000 newly inducted constables were also deployed.

Meerut 

Hamza Khan

Two people died of gunshots in Muzaffarnagar and Meerut districts of western Uttar Pradesh in clashes during Monday’s Bharat bandh, ADG (Meerut zone) Prashant Kumar confirmed. Tens of others were injured, some of them still critical, the police said. A third person — Suresh Chandra, a Jatav by caste — died in Firozabad. While locals said he was injured in police lathicharge and succumbed, Firozabad SSP Manoj Kumar said, “He died at night (Sunday) or this morning due to other reasons. Some people are trying to connect it with lathicharge but there was no lathicharge.”

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Muzaffarnagar Chief Medical Officer P S Mishra said that Amreesh, 19, from a Dalit family, had died, and 10 others, including three police personnel, were grievously injured in the district. “We will conduct a postmortem to establish the cause of death,” he said. Ashok Kumar, pradhan of Amreesh’s native Gadla village, said he was a labourer and was going to the city to look for work when he took a bullet, fired by police. “He died soon,” Kumar said.
The victim in Meerut, Ankur, was a protester, ADG Prashant Kumar said, and claimed that a bullet he had fired ricocheted and hit him in the stomach.

Ankur’s elder brother Rinku said, “People informed he was shot in stomach. Which law calls for immediate firing on protesters? They could have called a fire brigade (to spray water and disperse the crowd),” he said.
Citing a video, police officials claimed that Ankur was not killed in police firing.

Meerut SSP Manzil Saini said that former BSP MLA Yogesh Verma, husband of Meerut mayor Sunita Verma, is the “main conspirator” behind Monday’s flare-up.

Bhubaneswar

Express News Service

Protests were reported from tribal-dominated districts of Sundergarh, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur and Malkangiri in Odisha. The Adivasi-Dalit Sena observed a rail roko in Sambalpur, resulting in delay of a few local trains. Bhubaneswar’s Vani Vihar and Acharya Vihar saw demonstrations by Dalit activists. Buses stayed off roads and shops  were closed in Kalahandi, Bolangir and Birmitrapur.

READ: How crowds were mobilised: bike rally, social media, meets, mass leave

Chandigarh

Express News Service

Thirty policemen were injured in Haryana’s Kaithal town during the bandh. A police spokesperson said one of them has been referred to Chandigarh’s PGI for treatment; the others were discharged after primary treatment in Kaithal’s government hospital. Some Dalit protesters also received injuries, although the police could not specify the number. According to the Haryana Home Secretary, protesters tried to block trains at Kaithal and Karnal. In Kaithal town, the police lobbed teargas shells when protesters started damaging properties. A passenger train was also targeted, police said.

READ: Govt doesn’t agree with Supreme Court reasoning, says Law Minister

Dehradun

Express News Service

While peaceful protests were undertaken by Dalit groups across Uttarakhand, incidents of stone-pelting, firing among protesting groups and other local communities, and instances of vandalising public and private property by the protesters were reported from Roorkee, Bahadrabad, and Manglaur areas of Hardwar district. Two people, including a 16-year-old boy, were injured in firing between the protesters and a local community in Manglaur, and over 40 people, including about 15 police personnel, were injured in stone-pelting in Bahadrabad, Roorkee, and Manglaur.

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