Bharat bandh, an all-India shutdown on Monday, called by the Dalits to protest against the “dilution” of the ST/SC Act by the Supreme Court claimed several lives as it turned violent. Often, any form of protest, accept in the case of sit-in protest, turns violent and results in loss of lives as security forces fail to check the situation. A mob situation is difficult to control, there’s no doubt about it, and any untoward incident is not difficult to apprehend.
The protests by groups of Dalits and tribals turned violent in parts of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. The Dalits are not happy with the new Supreme Court guidelines issued on March 20 that protect public servants from immediate arrest after a complaint is filed against them under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
As the bandh called for justice to the minority took a dark turn under the grey sky on Monday evening with the number of death toll and injured rising, the political war-of-words started without any delay. Blessed with the gift of gap, political leaders soon started mudslinging. “Keeping Dalits at the lowest rung of Indian society is in the DNA of the RSS/BJP,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted. To which, BJP minister Ram Vilas Paswan hit back and told reporters, “Rahul Gandhi has no moral right to speak on the issues of Dalits. His party only abused him and encouraged others to abuse him”.
Not lacking behind, Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar today said the Supreme Court and the Centre were responsible for the violence.
All the brickbats come as no surprise. It will go on, so will the issue no matter what steps the court or the government takes. So, should we continue to call bandh and watch the many deaths? Surely the blood shed will not go lost. It will cry out from the ground it seeped into as a reminder of the dark moment. But will the cry be heard or blown away by another storm of protest?
Well, the word bandh, the Indian word for complete shutdown, comes easy to us here in Bharat. It seems like the easiest way to take as a last resort to an issue, not fearing the loss of lives. We are ever ready. The moment the call is given, our populous population never fails to make an impressive turnout. It’s easier said than done, of course and is there an alternative. Hard to come up with one in a nation where nothing is ever resolved. Which is why, there is bandh after bandh.
An alternative, perhaps, is ‘bandh’ Bharat bandh!