At least 30 Dalit organisations have called for a complete shutdown in Kerala against what they termed was the dilution of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. This is the first major call for strike since 2 April Bharat Bandh that had affected life across the country, particularly in north India.
At least 11 people were killed during the protests in three BJP-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh on 2 April.
Monday’s strike has impacted the the life in Kerala as protesters blocked roads to prevent vehicles from plying. In Kochi, the leader of Monday’s protest Geetanandan and his supporters was taken into custody, reported IANS.
“The report that we have got from across the state is that by and large the protest appears to have become a success… There is no reason for taking us into custody,” Geetanandan, Dalit activist and Aadivasi Gothra Mahasabha leader, told the media.
Shops especially in Kannur district, were asked to down their shutters, while in Kollam, there were reports of a state-owned bus being stoned. Teachers who were to reach the Class X examinations paper valuation camp in the district were held up after traffic was halted.
“Don’t think we can reach the camp on time. We decided to come after the state government had assured us that traffic would not be stopped and the police had taken all steps to prevent it. But now we are stranded,” a group of female teachers were quoted by IANS.
Several Dalit BJP MPs have already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing their outrage over the rising atrocities against the community under the saffron party rule. On Sunday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that PM Modi will not return to government in 2019 because of the resentment among Dalits.
“Frankly, I don’t see the BJP winning the next election, so in 2019 we will go back to the normal, I sense,” he said when asked to comment on the resentment among Dalits,