Bharat Bandh Deferred by Dalit Groups; Kisan Sabha and Ex-Servicemen's Outfit to Stage Protests Against Centre
Dalit groups protesting against caste-based violence | File image | (Photo Credits: PTI)

New Delhi, Aug 8: The Bharat Bandh call issued by nearly a dozen Dalit outfits under the aegis of All India Ambedkar Mahasabha (AIAM) has been deferred. The Mahasabha has cited the passage of amendment Bill in Lok Sabha, which annuls the changes made to the SC/ST Act by the Supreme Court, as the reason behind deferring their agitation.

AIAM convenor Ashok Bharti said the bandh has not been cancelled by them, but only deferred as the government has assured to address all their demands. "Our primary demand has been fulfilled. We will give time to the government to implement others," he said, referring to the restoration of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in its original form via the amendment Bill on Monday.

Among other demands raised by the Mahasabha include the release of nearly 30 Dalit activists arrested for their role in bandh called on April 2. The protesters have also sought swift justice to the kin of 12 Dalit agitators who were killed during the April 2 shutdown. Publication of the exhaustive caste census data gathered in 2011 is also among their charter of demands.

Although the Dalit groups have backed out from their bandh call, their cadres will be supporting the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) who would be staging demonstrations against the government in the national capital.

While the Kisan Sabha has marked its dissent against the lack of steps taken by the government to ensure the disbursement of adequate remunerative prices to the farmers, the ex-servicemen's group is up in protest due to the alleged lack of response shown by the Centre to address the anomalies related to the 'one rank, one pension' or OROP.

Earlier, the government had issued an appeal to the protesters saying all their issues would be addressed via negotiations. Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Ramdas Athawale, reached out to the Dalit groups saying there is no reason to "proceed with the bandh" as the government has already reversed the changes made to the SC/ST Act by the apex court.