The Dalit community on Monday protested against the alleged 'dilution' of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The Dalit organizations fear that this might increase violence against Dalits.

In view of the protest, the Punjab government has stopped all public transportation and also suspended internet services till 11 pm today.

The practical exams for class 10 and class 12 which was supposed to be held today have been postponed to April 12.

What Punjab CM says

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh urged to people to maintain peace. He said that the government understands the plight of the Dalits and respects their sentiments.

He appealed to the people to maintain peace and communal harmony.

There was both support and opposition for Dalits, who called for the bandh. While some said that this was the act of the Opposition to win a vote bank, other said that they stand in solidarity with the protesters.

The central government has filed a review petition against the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment on SC/ST protection Act. Many feel that the apex court has rightly banned automatic arrests and registration of criminal cases under the Act as it was grossly misused.

“I hope, the court rejects the petition,” said Sonam Mahajan, a media panelist who took to Twitter to express her views.

“The Opposition has called for a Bharat Bandh tomorrow to protest against the SC decision as identity and vote-bank politics is their bread & butter.

I urge people not to give in to their blackmail and laud the great judgment. It was high time, someone brought an end to this cruel law,” said Mahajan.

“I was born in a backward, far-flung border town in the state of J&K. I had no access to quality education, sports, cinema or even basic human rights under an authoritarian Islamist regime.

Technically, I was born a Dalit. Now, I’ve everything so I choose not to identify as one,” she added.

Like Mahanjan, several blamed the Congress government for not empowering the Dalits in a meritorious manner. “Innocent Muslims, Dalits, and Adivasis voted for Congress for 70yrs. But the Congress just caused their population to explode to create vote banks and kept them poor and illiterate.

The party pampered them to a large extent,” a user posted on Twitter.

On the other hand, those opposing Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the government has two options. “Either to bring an ordinance on SC/ST Act. This can be done quickly if there is a willingness or file a review petition, which would tantamount to delay and hogwash,” said a user on social media.

Shehla Rashid, Ph.D. scholar and former vice-president of JNU Students' Union said that she supports the India Bandh. “I am a non-Dalit and I support the Bharat Bandh against dilution of SC/ST Act. Atrocities against Dalits are real and thriving, as Una, Rohith Vemula, Saharanpur showed us. If there were a similar law against atrocities on Muslims, half of Narendra Modi's's Cabinet would be in jail,” she said.

What’s happening in Ahmedabad?

Meanwhile, in Ahmedabad, Dalit groups gathered at Sarangpur area of the city to protest against the observations made by a SupremeCourt bench regarding SC/ST atrocity (Prevention) Act. Many parts of Juna Vadaj area of Ahmedabad observed bandh after an appeal from the local leaders. Routes of at least 10 AMTS buses diverted after reports of vandalism on city roads. Over five companies of State Reserve Police (SRP) deployed in different parts of the city along with the local police to prevent any untoward incident. City police were put on alert since 8 am today.

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