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SC/ST Act: Mayawati condemns protests staged by upper caste groups

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Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on Friday condemned a protest held by upper caste groups across various states in the country against the latest amendment approved by Parliament to retract a Supreme Court judgement over the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

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On March 20, while hearing a case from Maharashtra, the apex court found that the SC/ST Act was being misused, and ordered that government servants cannot be immediately arrested on complaints made by the SC and ST persons before the matter is investigated by high ranking officers.

While addressing a press conference, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister alleged that the ‘Bharat Bandh’ was a politically-motivated move by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the general elections.

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“By instigating people to raise their voices against the upliftment of Dalits, OBCs, Adivasis and other underprivileged groups in the society, the Centre is creating a divide in the society in order to bag maximum votes in the not so distant general elections,” she said.

“The protesters have a wrong impression in their mind that such amendments to the Act will suppress the people of other communities,” she added.

Calling the recent ‘Bharat Bandh’ a complete failure, the BSP president highlighted that the protest was only held in those states which are ruled by the BJP. “It is clear from this that the BJP is working to woo people on the issue of caste and religion continuing their vote bank politics,” she reiterated.

Mayawati also alleged that the Centre is not doing enough to ease the lives of Scheduled Castes castes and OBCs, which are reeling under poverty for the past couple of decades. “BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are repeatedly introducing anti-Dalit policies in the country. Not only that, the government is also deliberately not presenting correct facts in the case during the Supreme Court hearing. This way they are making the mockery of our system,” she said.

In her concluding remark, Mayawati urged upper caste people, Scheduled Castes and other backward classes not to fall prey to the tactics of the BJP in the future. She added that these moves are taken by the BJP in an attempt to sweep the 2019 general elections.

The apex court, in its March 20 ruling, had barred immediate arrests in cases registered under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, after which Dalit organisations staged a massive protest across the country on April 2 against the judgment of the top court.

Later, the Centre filed a review petition against the ruling. The top court refused to stay its order and asked all parties to submit detailed replies.

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