Dalit and farmers groups have called for a Bharat bandh on Thursday while an organisation campaigning for the Maratha community in Maharashtra has called for massive protests.
While the Maratha Kranti Morcha has called for peaceful sit-in protests over its demand for reservations for the community, dalit organisations have planned marches across the country as part of the Bharat bandh; schools and colleges may be kept shut in Pune district for the day. The Pune district collector also urged senior members of the Maratha community to ensure that the youth did not take law into their own hands and the protest remained peaceful.
The dalit groups are opposed to a Supreme Court order on the SC/ST Atrocity Act.
While the Narendra Modi government recently introduced a bill to 'nullify' the perceived weakening of the legislation by the Supreme Court order, some dalit groups remain unimpressed. Dalit groups alleged that this act was diluted in the Supreme Court ruling of March 20 rendering it toothless. The Narendra Modi government has already passed a proposal for amendments, but the dalit organisations are firm on carrying out a Bharat bandh.
The Modi government's Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill 2018 rules out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order. It also provides that no preliminary inquiry will be required for registering a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval.
Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale appealed to people to to maintain peace, harmony and brotherhood in the country and requested people not to participate in the Bharat bandh organised by dalit organisations.
According to Ashok Bharti, former chairperson of National Confederation of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR), dalits of the country feel shortchanged as they don't have any stake on the country's economy and there has been a “cultural attack” on the dalits, on their dietary habits and profession. Participation by the dalit community is expected to be seen in states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana and Punjab.
Farmers and families of retired army personnel are also expected to join the Bharat bandh on Thursday. The army families are annoyed at the NDA government over unfulfiled promises on 'One Rank, One Pension'. Families of retired army officials are also not happy over ministry of defence's order of opening internal roads of military areas. They call it not only illegal but also being in violation of Official Secrets Act & Cantonment Administration Rules. The veterans allege the new order also compromises the security of troops, equipment, weapons, ammunition, installations, and families.
The All India Kisan Sabha is upset over the Modi government's inaction against on the agrarian crisis.
Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) and All India Ambedkar Mahasabha (AIAM) are the other organisations that will be seen taking part in the Bharat bandh on Thursday.