At least 9 persons were killed and dozens injured as Dalit protests during a day-long nation-wide strike on Monday turned violent in different parts of India amid anger against a Supreme Court order that dilutes a law aimed at preventing atrocities against Dalits and Tribes. Seven people were killed in Madhya Pardesh, 2 in Uttar Pradesh, 1 in Rajasthan.
The government, in a bid to pacify the agitated activists, said it had filed a petition in the apex court seeking a review of its March 20 order that bars automatic arrest and registration of cases for alleged harassment of Dalits and others. But the top court denied an urgent hearing of the matter.
Protesters clashed with police in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha — states where normal life was paralysed in varying degrees amid incidences of violence and arson.
The central government rushed 800 anti-riot policemen to violence-hit Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
A Home Ministry official in Delhi said two companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) were sent to Meerut and one company each to Agra and Hapur in Uttar Pradesh.
Clashes turned deadly in Madhya Pradesh where five persons were killed and dozens injured, forcing officials to impose curfew in Morena, Gwalior and Bhind districts. Protests were also held Bhopal as agitators blocked roads in the state capital.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan made a passionate appeal for peace.
Police said one person each was killed in Bhind and Morena while three died in Gwalior. The dead in Morena was identified as Rahul Pathak, a student leader.