Bharat Bandh updates: Protesters vandalise Meerut collectorate, torch vehicles in Uttar Pradesh's Hapur
Bharat Bandh was called by several Dalit groups on Monday. The Centre on Monday filed a review petition on the Supreme Court verdict on the SC/ST Act.
Bharat Bandh Latest Updates: As the violence intensified in Meerut, protestors vandalised the town collectorate and court premises while burning several vehicles. Intermittent firing could also be heard from the collectorate. Traffic snarls could also be seen at Connaught Place in New Delhi as Dalit protesters reach the commercial hub of the city. Vehicles had to be diverted to other roads in light of the ongoing Bharat bandh.
One person was killed in the violence in Morena in Madhya Pradesh. Security officials imposed curfew in the area following the incident. Curfew was imposed in parts of Gawlior in Madhya Pradesh on Monday after violence intensified in the city. The police also imposed Section 144 (prohibits assembly of more than four people in the area) imposed in Sagar.
The Centre on Monday filed a review petition on the Supreme Court verdict on the SC/ST Act. "We have filed a comprehensive review petition which will be presented before the court by the senior lawyers of the government," Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the media.
Protests by Dalit organisations took a violent turn in Uttar Pradesh districts of Agra, Saharanpur, Meerut, Bagpat over the issue of the amendment in SC/ST Act. Bikes were torched in Agra and some buses vandalised in Sahranpur.
Mortal remains of the Indians killed in Iraq are set to reach Punjab on Monday amid the ongoing bandh. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh urged protesters not to obstruct movement of vehicles carrying remains.
Daily life was disrupted across Punjab, Bihar and Odisha as protesters poured out onto the streets to demonstrate against the Supreme Court ruling on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. To maintain law and order, 12,000 additional security forces personnel including state police, Rapid Action Force, Central Reserve Police Force were deployed in different parts of Punjab.
Protesters in Bihar, Odisha and Agra took to the streets and blocked train movements across Jahanabad, Arrah and Sambhalpur. Women also took part in large numbers in Agra. To maintain law and order in Punjab, the state government appointed gazetted officers drawing the grade pay of Rs 5,000 and above as Executive Magistrates till 3 April for the district in which they are posted.
Following the Bharat Bandh called by Dalit organisations, officials suspended internet services including dongle in Punjab. The state government also asked the army to remain on standby mode to face any untoward situation arising out of the bandh.
In view of a bandh called by a number of Dalit organisations on Monday to protest the alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act, the Punjab government has ordered a security clampdown as a precautionary measure, while the Army and paramilitary forces have been asked to be on standby. Schools will remain shut and buses off the road. A spokesperson of the Punjab government said mobile Internet services in the state will remain suspended from 5 pm on Sunday till 11 pm on Monday in a bid to check rumormongering on social media.
All public and private transport will stay off the road during the bandh to prevent any untoward incident, the spokesperson said. The orders were issued after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh reviewed the security arrangements with top police and administration officials. It was followed by a video conference involving the Chief Secretary, deputy commissioners and other senior officials of all districts, the spokesperson said in a statement.
Security forces conducted flag marches at some places in the state today as a precautionary measure. Elaborating on the precautionary measures taken by the government, the spokesperson said four battalions each of the Rapid Action Force and the Border Security Force, and 12,000 additional police personnel will remain on duty tomorrow to maintain law and order.
Buses run by the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), Punjab Roadways, PunBus, and private operators would remain off the road during the bandh, the spokesperson said. Banks will also remain closed, he said.
According to an order by the DPI (Colleges), all "government colleges, government-aided colleges, private colleges, government and private universities", will remain closed tomorrow in view of the proposed bandh. Likewise, all government, non-government/private, aided and recognized schools would also remain shut tomorrow.
The final practical examinations of classes 10 and 12 of the Punjab School Education Board will be conducted on April 11 instead of April 2, according to the directions of the Education Department. Asking security forces to deal with an iron hand any attempt to disturb peace and harmony in Punjab, the chief minister appealed to the organisations, which have called the bandh to protest the alleged dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, not to take the law into their own hands, obstruct transport movement or harass commuters.
The armed forces and the paramilitary will be on standby to render any assistance as needed, the spokesperson said, adding that the chief minister had directed the police to crackdown on anyone found trying to disrupt peace and harmony.
"Punjab being a key route for transportation of essential provisions to the armed forces at the borders, any disruption on the highways could seriously hamper the supply of the necessary supplies," he said. The chief minister also appealed to the protestors to ensure that the mortal remains of the Iraq victims, which are expected to arrive in Amritsar tomorrow, are allowed to be transported to their native villages without any impediment.
He also directed the Punjab Police to provide security for the same along the route -- from the airport to the respective native villages of the victims.
Noting that the central government had already announced its decision to file a review petition against the Supreme Court order diluting the provisions of the SC/SC Act, the chief minister said the SC/ST communities should defer their protest till a final decision on the petition.
Meanwhile, the Department of Home Affairs, Justice and Jails has through a notification authorized all district magistrates to "declare any place to be a special jail under the Punjab Jail Manual in view of the bandh call".
The government has also appointed special executive magistrates for the maintenance of law and order, up to April 3, in their respective districts under Section 21 of the CrPC. The apex court had on March 20 diluted the provisions of the Act, in a bid to protect honest public servants discharging bona fide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Act.
The results will be prepared on the basis of objective criteria to be developed by the SSC Board at a later date
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The ICSE exam was scheduled to begin on 4 May and would end on 7 June, while ISC would have concluded on 18 June, as per the initial timetable