Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) on Friday gave the BJP government time till August 9 to restore the stringent measures of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and remove National Green Tribunal Chairman Justice A K Goel, PTI has reported.
Various Dalit and tribal groups have called for a ‘Bharat bandh’ on August 9 to press for their demands.
The retired judge was on the bench, which, on March 20, laid down stringent safeguards, including provisions for anticipatory bail and a “preliminary enquiry” before registration of a case under the SC/ST Act. The Dalits felt the ruling was a dilution of the special law meant for their safety.
In a veiled threat, Paswan’s MP son Chiragh, at a press conference, said the LJP’s support to the BJP is issue-based and that the patience of many within the party was running thin in the given circumstances, PTI reported. The LJP leader underlined that the party’s support to the BJP was primarily on the condition that the interests of these communities are protected. He, however, added he has faith in the Prime Minister as the Centre has done a lot for Dalits.
Paswan also reiterated the demand that the government should table a Bill in Parliament to bring back the SC/ST Act in its original form. The Lok Sabha MP said the incidents of atrocities against the community have risen following the Supreme Court verdict and that FIRs were not being registered by the police.
Earlier, Ram Vilas Paswan had written to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, saying that the All India Ambedkar Mahasabha (AIAM), a Dalit rights coalition, has sought removal of Justice Goel from the NGT top post as it sent out a “wrong message”. He said the AIAM has also asked the government to bring in a Bill in the ongoing session of Parliament to safeguard the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Chirag added if the demands are not met, then the protests during the August 9 bandh could be much worse than what happened on April 2 when Dalit outfits had given a similar call. More than 10 persons had died during that protest.
With PTI inputs