Day after Dalit protests, death toll rises to 11
Jaipur/Bhopal: Fresh violence broke out in Rajasthan on Tuesday as a 5,000-strong mob set ablaze the houses of a sitting and a former MLA, both Dalits, even as the death toll from yesterday's nationwide stir by Dalit groups rose to 11 with two more persons succumbing to their injuries in Madhya Pradesh.
While the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to stay its recent order on the SC/ST Act, which had triggered the Bandh call by Dalit organisations that alleged the move diluted their constitutional rights, the government maintained that it was not responsible for any dilution and that it was fully committed to protecting the interests of the backward communities.
Normal life was thrown out of gear in more than 10 states, most of them BJP-ruled, with widespread violence during the protests called by Dalit organisations yesterday with poll-bound Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan bearing the maximum brunt. Counter-protests were reported today from Rajasthan, where traders' groups and members of other castes hit the streets over the damage caused yesterday.
In Alwar district, where a man was killed yesterday, people staged a sit-in protest, refusing to cremate the body of the victim. The houses of a sitting and a former MLA, both Dalits, were set afire by a violent mob this afternoon in Hindaun town in Karauli district of Rajasthan, following which curfew was imposed in the area, a senior official said.
A mob comprising nearly 5,000 people set ablaze the houses of sitting MLA Rajkumari Jatav and former MLA Bharosilal Jatav in Hindaun, District Collector, Karauli, Abhimanyu Kumar said.
While Rajkumari Jatav is from the ruling BJP, Bharosilal Jatav is a former Congress legislator who had also served as a minister in the state.
The agitated members of the traders' associations and upper castes took out a procession in Hindaun today and tried to enter the SC/ST-dominated areas, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) NRK Reddy said.
"The police lobbed tear gas shells and resorted to cane-charging and firing rubber bullets to disperse the mob," he added. Superintendent of Police (SP), Karauli, Anil Kayal said after the incidents of arson and violence, nearly 40 people were detained in Hindaun.
According to the police, tension also prevailed in Churu and Gangapur city, where the law-and-order situation remained "critical". Curfew was clamped in Gangapur city last night. In Madhya Pradesh, the death toll from the violence that broke out during Dalit protests yesterday rose to eight with two more persons succumbing to injuries.