Police had advance information of April 2 Bharat bandh, why was there no preventive measure?

bharat bhandh

By Dr VA Ramesh Nathan, PS Krishnan IAS (retd)*

The National Coalition for Strengthening Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act strongly condemns the caste based atrocity unleashed on Dalits in in several parts of the country including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh on April 2, 2018, which resulted in nine Dalits killed and several seriously injured and many houses and shops of Dalits were set on fire, ransacked, and looted after attack by the dominant caste community. Several Dalit organizations called a Bharat Bandh on April 2 against the Supreme Court order diluting the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The dilution of the Act, which guarantees a certain degree of protection to the oppressed communities against discrimination and atrocities, was met with widespread condemnation.

To understand the real situation on the ground, on May 3-4, 2018, the National Coalition for Strengthening PoA Act (NCSPA), New Delhi; National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, New Delhi; Madhya Pradesh Sarvodaya, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh; and National Dalit Movement for Justice, New Delhi facilitated a fact-finding visit to Madhya Pradesh where seven persons had died. The team visited Bhind district, where three persons were killed in firing and several others were injured and many others were implicated in cases during Bharat Bandh on April 2. The team interviewed 13 victims whose family members faced various forms of violence such as murder, attempt to murder, violence against children, framing in false cases and physical and verbal assault. The team also visited District Collector and SP of Bhind District, Madhya Pradesh.

The team found that despite knowing that a Bharat Bandh is being called, the police did not take any of the preventive measures allowed under the SCs and STs (PoA) Act 1989 and Rules 1995, such as recommend removal of a person likely to create unrest from a particular area for a specified period (Section 10(1), 1989 Act), consider revoking arms licenses and seizing illegal fire-arms of the dominant caste with a view to ensure safety (Rule 3(1)(iii and iv), or set up vigilance and monitoring committee to closely monitor situation (Rule 3(1)(vii). These measures may have helped contain violence.

The Administration failed to arrest the four accused, who fired during the peaceful protest, namely, Babloo alias Shiv Kumar Rathore, Sonu Vaishandar s/o Vinod Vaishandar, Monu Vaishandar s/o Vinod Vaishandar, and Vinod Vaishandar in FIR No. 0113/18, and 112/2018, dated April 3, 2018 u/s 302 IPC, 3(2)(v) SCs & STs (PoA) Act 1989, PS, Mehgaon, Bhind.

The Medical Officer at Mehgaon Government hospital showed negligence in carrying out their duties of providing immediate medical assistance to Pradeep Singh (23) and Akash Garg (14) who had received bullet injuries. They did little to stop bleeding immediately and get them transferred to the District Govt Hospital for enhanced medical treatment, which led to death of these innocent Dalits.

violencePolice personnel, who were on the spot of incident, disappeared during the firing by the accused and failed to provide immediate assistance to the victims, namely Gajendra and Anil Jatav, who were lying in the pool of blood in Bhind road Chauraha for around 2 hours after they were shot at. It is pertinent to note that the District Administration failed to lodge a FIR of the victim Mr.Gajendra, who was fired at on April 2.

Several important sections of the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 missing in the FIRs. The team reviewed some of the FIRs registered on the side of Dalits in relation to the attack.

Total failure of the administration in providing immediate relief, rehabilitation including in the murder cases that has been booked in FIR No. 0113/18, and 112/2018, dated 03/04/18 u/s 302 IPC, 3(2)(v) SCs & STs (PoA) Act 1989, PS – Mehgaon, Bhind.

The administration also came down heavily on the Dalit youth activists, leaders in the area working for the rights of Dalit community. Several Dalit youths have been arrested and put behind bars.

Specific demands: 

  • Firm action and arrest against all those involved in the atrocities against the Dalits.
  • Immediate registration of FIRs for those it has not been registered so far and immediate alteration of correct sections of  POA Act 1989 as amended in 2015 in FIRs.
  • Initiate legal proceedings against the concerned officials under section (4) of the PoA Act 1998 for not registering FIRs at all, also in cases where FIRs not registered under appropriate sections, and for willfully neglecting medical assistance to the persons died and injured.
  • Immediate interim compensation to each of the survivors of Late Pradeep Singh and Late Akash Garg, as per Rule 12(4) of the SCs and STs (PoA) Rules 1995.
  • The cases registered under PoA Act 1989 shall be investigated and completed within 60 days as per Rule 7 (2) of the Rules 1995 and charge sheet shall be submitted to the Exclusive Special Court with in the given time frame i.e, 60 days.
  • Proper estimation of damages (physical as well as psychological) inflicted on Dalit households and relief and rehabilitation package should be announced without any further delay taking into consideration the damages and livelihood loss. The shops belonging to Dalits, which were damaged, to be reestablished as top priority.
  • Government should take measures to extern persons likely to create unrest from a particular area for a specified period of time (Section 10(1), 1989 Act), consider revoking arms licenses and seizing illegal fire-arms of the Thakurs and providing arms licenses to Dalits with a view to ensure safety as per Rule 3(1)(iii and iv) of Rules 1995.
  • The administration must withdraw false cases implicating Dalits and their leaders.

General demands: 

  • Nullify the Judgment of 20.3.2018 (other than what related directly and exclusively to the appellant Shri Subhash Kashinath Mahajan) by bringing an Ordinance in the parliament.
  • immediately to restore the SCs and STs (PoA) Act 1989 and the SC and ST (PoA) Amendment Act 2015 to the state they were in prior to the judgment of 20.3.2018.
  • The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 and the PoA Amendment Act 2015 may be included in the Ninth Schedule so that it may get some protection in the matter of judicial review and the Act and its provisions cannot be curtailed by any judgment or order of any court.
  • Government of Madhya Pradesh should immediately make a public statement in line with the statement made by the chief minister of Rajasthan and announce that cases will be scrutinized on top priority basis and those found arrested without valid reasons shall be released without any further delay.

*National convenor, chief advisor, National Dalit Movement For Justice (NDMJ)-NCDHR

Click HERE to download report of the fact-finding mission

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