Captain Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government has suspended public transport services on April 2, 2018. The announcement came after several Dalit organisations called for a ‘Bharat bandh’ to protest against the dilution of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act provisions and alleged random arrests and harassment of minority groups. The state government has also said all educational facilities and institutions will remain closed in the wake of the bandh. The government is anticipating agitation and to prevent any untoward incident, it has also directed to suspend mobile internet services in the state.
Punjab chief secretary Karan A Singh has requested the Centre for keep military on standby to avoid violence. In his letter, the state chief secretary said the state might need assistance of armed forces to maintain law and order.
Bharat Bandh has been called by a Dalit group ‘Sanvidhaan Bachao Sangharash Committee (SBSC).’ Leaders of the Dalit group came down heavily on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), accusing it of creating tension and an unstable environment for minorities in the country. The group alleged that Christians, Sikhs, Muslims and SC/STs were facing an increasing amount of atrocities lately. They also alleged that the dilution of the Act happened as the government did not argue the case in the Supreme Court.
However, Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot tweeted the BJP government was committed towards welfare of the minority groups. He also assured that Narendra Modi government would file a review petition in the Supreme Court.
The apex court had recently ruled that to file a case of atrocities on SC and ST members, a DSP-level investigation would be mandatory. SC also observed that permission from senior officials was needed before arresting any government official in such cases.
As per ANI report, Commissioner of Police for Ludhiana has informed that 4000 police personnel along with one company of Rapid Action Force will be deployed tomorrow. He added that strict action will be taken against those perpetrating violence during the protest.