Several districts across Madhya Pradesh observed a complete shutdown on Thursday, in support of protests called by various upper caste outfits against the amendments to the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (POA) Act passed in Parliament in July 2018.
As per the amendments made by the apex court, which is the primary driving force behind the bandh, unlike earlier, an initial inquiry will not be conducted before registering an FIR against the accused. And, the officer on duty does not need to take prior approval from his/her superior before arresting a perpetrator. Moreover, Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure does not apply in these cases.
The bandh was called by upper caste outfits like SAPAKS, Rajput Karni Sena and others. In Madhya Pradesh, schools, petrol pumps, colleges and markets remained shut. The businesses that remained opened were asked to down their shutters by noon.
To prevent a situation like the violent clashes that broke out during April’s Maha Bandh organised by the Scheduled Castes, Section 144 was imposed across the state. To maintain harmony and ensure a peaceful protest, a large police force was deployed across the state. Various agencies like SAF and home guards were also called in. Security had been beefed up, and over 5,000 personnel from 34 security agencies were deployed across 35 districts.
To prevent circulation of objectionable and provocative messages during the bandh, the Jabalpur district magistrate sent a notice that 2G, 3G and 4G mobile network services in the district will be barred from 8 pm on 5 September, till 6 pm on 6 September.
In Bhind, stray stone-pelting incidents took place in the afternoon. Sources said that police officials were attacked by a mob in front of the Nagar Palika.
Some individuals from the Ghasoi village in the Suwasra tehsil of Mandsaur set afire an effigy of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. They were then asked to leave the spot by police officials.
Gwalior also observed a strict bandh due to the agitation announced by the Savarna Samaj, a major upper caste group. Over 1,500 policemen have been deployed in the area. District police force, STF, SAF and QRT teams were on constant alert while combing through sensitive regions for anti-social elements.
Over 120 police mobile vans with 210 policemen scanned through the entire city, and the Gwalior Police installed 40 cameras to scan sensitive pockets. Over 615 CCTVs and four drones helped the police keep a vigil across the city. The security measures are expected to continue through Friday.
Bhind SP Rudolf Alwares and ASP Gurukaran Singh took to the streets with their forces and kept a tab on the situation in the district. They warned about strict consequences and police actions against people who are found to disturb peace and harmony.
Similarly, Neemuch police officials also took out a flag march in the area as a demonstration of strength. Incessant rains in some parts of Mandsaur, Neemuch and outer Indore did not stop people in the region from protesting against reservation.
SAPAKS members in Bhind wore black T-shirts with the tagline ‘Hum Hain Mai Ke Laal’, mocking the chief minister’s earlier statement that translated to ‘no mother has given birth to a child who could change the law’. Slogans were raised, bike rallies organised, and masses gathered in processions against Chouhan.
They submitted a memorandum to senior officials in Mandsaur, asking them to give it to the president, and were dispersed by the police after warnings. They also carried out a rally at Gandhi Square in the area.
Not much activity was witnessed in Indore, but a rally was held from Marimata square to Rajwada, to protest against reservation. The people who participated in the rally were mostly Brahmins.
(With inputs from agencies)
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