Stray incidents of violence mar Bharat bandh

Patna: Some 127 people were arrested in Bihar in connection with protests, while a confrontation between some Hindu organizations and Dalits led to tensions in Phagwara, during a “bharat bandh” called by some organizations on Tuesday against caste-based reservation.
Tension was witnessed in Punjab after members of Hindu organizations, who were getting shops closed during the “Bharat Bandh” called to protest against reservation policies, were confronted by Dalits.
A minor tension was also reported in Ferozepur, however, the situation is under control.
Bandh was observed in Ropar, Morinda and Nangal amd markets remained closed.
Reports from Bihar showed attempts to block trains, while some schools suspended their bus services in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh (MP), which was the worst hit during the April 2 nationwide bandh called by Dalit groups with at least eight people being killed in violent protests.
Officials in MP said the call for today’s bandh was given on social media and no organization had come forward so far to claim responsibility for it.
In Rajasthan, which was also hit badly during the Dalit-convened bandh, the state government has issued prohibitory orders under the Section 144 of the CrPC and blocked mobile internet services in the state capital as precautionary measure.
The police chiefs and collectors of districts across the state have been asked to take prompt action if any nuisance is created, officials in Jaipur said.
Yesterday on April 9, the union Home Ministry had issued advisory to all states to beef up security and prevent violence during the Bharat Bandh against caste-based reservations in jobs and education.
The Ministry of Home Affairs also said the districts magistrates and superintendents of police (SPs) would be personally held responsible for any violence in their area of jurisdiction.
The directive came a week after a similar protest saw massive violence in different parts of the country leading to the death of at least 11 persons.
The authorities in Bhopal have announced daytime curfew in Morena and Bhind, besides enforcing prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in Gwalior, Bhopal, Sagar and some other sensitive towns of the state to avoid any untoward incidents.
The internet services too have been blocked in the Gwalior-Chambal region to prevent rumour-mongering, officials said.
In Uttar Pradesh, life remained by and large normal and officials said there was no report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the state till around noon.
In Gujarat, which has seen several Dalit protests of late, the response to the bandh call, was tepid, with most establishments and markets remaining open.
Barring Idar and Khedbrahma towns in north Gujarat, where markets remained shut during the day in support of the bandh, the state remained unaffected, the official said.
Khedbrahma MLA Ashwin Kotwal claimed shopkeepers joined the bandh out of fear.
“I was told shopkeepers decided to join the bandh in panic, as some people circulated messages warning them of consequences if the locals did not support the protest,” the Congress legislator claimed.
The central government has sent 30 companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)—the country’s largest paramilitary force—to various states to maintain law and order during the bandh.
Home Ministry officials said 14 of these companies have been sent to Uttar Pradesh, eight to Rajasthan, and four each to Madhya Pradesh and Bihar to prevent any untoward incident during the bandh called in protest against the country’s reservation policy.
Tuesday’s anti-quota protest came a week after a nationwide protest by Dalit groups against “dilution” of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by the Supreme Court, entailing massive violence in different parts of the country and leading to the death of nine people.

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