Amidst noisy protests by people from the upper caste against the central government's decision to restore the SC/ST Act in its original form, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has promised that he will ensure that the Act is 'not misused' against anyone and no one is arrested without preliminary investigation.
Amidst noisy protests by people from the upper caste against the central government’s decision to restore the SC/ST Act in its original form, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has promised that he will ensure that the Act is ‘not misused’ against anyone and no one is arrested without preliminary investigation. The CM took to microblogging site Twitter to make this promise. The statement is seen as Chouhan’s move to placate the upper caste people of the state who are mainly seen as the vote-bank of the BJP that has been ruling the state for the last 15 years.
“In MP, the SC/ST Act will not be misused, no arrest will be done without a probe,” Shivraj tweeted on Thursday. Today, the Chief Minister repeated the statement at a public meeting in Chhindwara. “There will not be any arrests without investigation under the SC/ST Act in Madhya Pradesh.”
The declaration from the CM after upper caste protestors gave a call to gherao the CM’s residence. BJP leaders and ministers in the state are already facing heat due to protests by the upper caste staff of the government who are opposing the central government’s decision to bring a bill in the Parliament to overturn the Supreme Court’s February ruling that had diluted the stringent provisions in the law to with a view to prevent its misuse.
Under tremendous pressure from the opposition and its own Dalits leaders and MPs, the central government brought in a legislation to circumvent the Supreme Court’s order. The apex court had in its order introduced a provision of an anticipatory bail and directed that a prior approval from the competent authority will be mandatory before arresting any government employee. This had triggered a nationwide protest by the Dalits that had left over 10 dead.
But when the government restored the diluted provisions of the Act, the upper caste people, especially in the three BJP-ruled poll-bound states, staged demonstrations against the government and demanded that it be rolled back.
The promise made by Chouhan is seen as an attempt to placate the protesting communities and coincides with his predecessor Babulal Gaur’s remark that the Supreme Court’s ruling on the SC/ST Act was correct. Gaur, however, had said that the ‘people’s anger’ was against MPs who favoured the bill and not against the BJP.
Government employees in Madhya Pradesh are already upset with the BJP given that it had announced reservation in promotion for SCs and STs. This has prompted the general category, minority class and OBCs staff to come together to float an organisation SAPAKS and a political wing has announced that it will contest the upcoming assembly elections in the state from all seats.
The High Court had struck down the policy of reservation in promotion, but the Madhya Pradesh government had moved the Supreme Court challenging the HC’s order. The matter is currently pending in the top court.
According to 2011 census, SCs account for 15.51% and STs constitute 18.46% of the state’s total population. The Madhya Pradesh Assembly has 230 chairs. There are 35 seats reserved for SCs and 47 for STs.