Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Friday announced to withdraw cases registered against Dalits as well as upper caste people in connection with the April 2018 violence in the backdrop of a Supreme Court verdict overturning the provisions of SC-ST Atrocities Act.
The move came on a day when the Madhya Pradesh Election Commission announced the civic body elections in three phases, starting from June 25, 2022.
The violent clashes had broken out in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior-Chambal region on April 2 in 2018 on a Dalit organisation’s call. The violence had left seven dead and dozens injured.
The Supreme Court on March 20, 2018, had protected a public servant against arrest under the SC-ST Atrocities Act-1989 without a preliminary inquiry, overturning the provisions in the Act that has provision of immediate arrest.
Interacting with reporters on Friday morning, Chouhan said, “On April 4 in 2018, Madhya Pradesh saw violent clashes, specifically in Gwalior-Chambal region, between various communities owing to some misunderstanding. This led to various cases being registered against brothers of the SC/ST community as well as those from the general category. I had gone there recently with my cabinet ministers where Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia was also present. Members from both communities met me separately and both agreed that cases registered against members of both the communities should be taken back.”
Chouhan further added that “we consulted all stake-holders; Scindia was present; we also spoke to Union Minister Narendra Tomar. It was decided that cases registered against both communities will be taken back in the interest of communal harmony.”
In the Gwalior-Chambal region which has 34 Assembly seats, the Congress won 26 seats in 2018 whereas the BJP, which had won 20 seats in 2014, could bag only 7. Although the saffron party regained some seats in the 2020 bypolls after Jyotiraditya Scindia joined the party.
The Dalits comprise at least 20 per cent of population in Chambal with the Jatavs being the most dominant.
In Bhind, the police had booked more than 50 people, and had detained hundreds of locals. In Morena, the police had named and booked 134 people, announcing rewards between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 against 12 absconding Dalit leaders. Similarly, in Gwalior, police had booked more than 100 people, and arrested many as suspects under sections 147, 148, 149, 307, 336, 353, 186, 188 and 341 of the IPC.
According to officials, the cases that are to be withdrawn will be decided between Home and Law departments with the final files being put before the court by the Home Department after consulting the Law Department.
Incidentally, soon after coming to power in 2018, the Congress had announced to withdraw all cases of ‘political vendetta’ filed against Dalit and farmers during the previous BJP government.