Dalit outfits postpone ‘Bharat Bandh’ after Lok Sabha passes bill to restore original SC/ST Act


NEW DELHI: In a big relief to the Centre, the Dalit outfits have called off their proposed Bharat Bandh (country-wide shutdown) on Thursday.

A decision in this regard was taken after the Lok Sabha passed the SC/ST amendment bill which overturned the SC ruling which had allegedly diluted certain provisions of the original legislation.

The All India Ambedkar Mahasabha (AIAM) – the umbrella organisation of the Dalit groups – said that the Bharat Bandh has been deferred as of now and not called off.

“Our major demand regarding the restoration of the SC\ST Act has been fulfilled,” a written statement issued by the All India Ambedkar Mahasabha (AIAM) said on Wednesday.

However, the Dalit outfits have not yet decided on the next date for their agitation

”If the Centre does not accept our demands we will hit the streets again,” Ashok Bharti, chairman of AIAM, was quoted as saying by the News18.com.

Bharti also said that this was done keeping in mind the Kanwariya Yatra.

The Dalit outfits will continue to support the protest led by ex-servicemen on One Rank One Pension (OROP) and All India Kisan Sabha-led agitation on farm crisis, both scheduled to be staged on Thursday in New Delhi.

The AIAM has also thanked various political parties for lending their support to the cause.

It said that it had successfully achieved its first milestone in protecting the law. The new deadline will be decided in due course of time, the Dalit leaders said.

Union Minister Ramdas Athawale had on Wednesday appealed to the public not to take part in the August 9 bandh. He also urged the people to maintain peace and brotherhood in the country.

His appeal came a day after the Lok Sabha passed The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill 2018 to overturn a Supreme Court order concerning certain safeguards against arrest under the law. The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill 2017, which grants constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), was also passed by Parliament on Monday.

In his appeal, Athawale said that the passage of the two bills was a revolutionary step. He also alleged that the Opposition is defaming the government wrongly and assured that the Centre is continuously working towards the welfare of Dalits.

Importantly, the ruling BJP will also be observing “social justice fortnight” from August 15-30 and “social justice week” from August 1-9 from next year to mark the parliamentary nod to the bill seeking to grant constitutional status to the OBC Commission.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday said that the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament will be remembered as a session dedicated to social justice and social harmony.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said that PM Modi referred to the passage of a bill in the Lok Sabha to strengthen the law against Dalit atrocities. Kumar said they expected that the Rajya Sabha will also pass it during the ongoing monsoon session, which ends on August 10.

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