By Ayushi Singh and Ritika Arun Gondhalekar
Bangalore, April 10, 2018: The Karnataka Dalit Sangharsha Samithi (DSS) on Tuesday protested against the Supreme Court’s judgment on the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, and demanded it be withdrawn.
Led by N. Murthy, about 70 DSS members, carrying banners, shouted slogans like “Nyaya Beku” (we want justice) near Mysore Bank Circle on K.G. Road.
Asked what their main demands were, Murthy informed The Observer : “The judgment should be withdrawn. Even genuine cases will be dropped…. Previously because of this Act, there was some fear. Once a complaint is filed, the accused is to be taken into custody immediately. But now, anything can be done to escape action. Accused persons can use money power and get away.”
Like the Centre, the Karnataka government doesn’t favour a review of the ruling. “If the Supreme Court verdict is not repealed, 85% of SC/STs and OBCs will vote against the state and central governments in the upcoming assembly and Lok Sabha elections. The court verdict has done grave injustice to oppressed classes. There will be unabated protests throughout India unless the Supreme Court reconsiders its verdict,” he said.
People involved in over 15,000 cases of atrocities against SC/STs will be given bail in the wake of the court judgment, he claimed.
Protester Sathish Kumar said: “We are here to support the DSS leader. We want the government to review the judgment; otherwise, we will boycott the BJP in the upcoming assembly elections. We want our rights to be safeguarded.”
Another DSS member, Rangananthan S, said: “Babasaheb Ambedkar fought hard for our rights. This judgment gives people the freedom to continue atrocities and get away in the name of investigation. We demand immediate arrest on a complaint (being filed). The SC should take back its decision; otherwise, these protests will go on.”
A recent verdict of the apex court laid down new guidelines to protect people falsely accused under the Act. The guidelines, to police officers, say that no arrests are to be made without proper preliminary investigation.
Protests against the judgment were held across the country on April 2. Nine persons were killed in violence during the protests. Most of the deaths were reported from BJP-ruled states.
Murthy said: “The government should appeal against the SC verdict. Or it can bring an ordinance to nullify the judgment. (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is following what the Congress government did. Modi is against the welfare of SC/STs. When the Congress did this, we protested and everything was changed in our favour. We hope the BJP government does the same.”