New Delhi (April 03, 2018): At least eight people died in three Indian states on Monday as tens of thousands of lower-caste Indians demonstrated violently against a recent Supreme Court ruling that they say dilutes protections for the Dalit community.
Protesters halted railway traffic, forced shops to close and made their presence felt in at least 10 states. As the day began, protests were peaceful, but they quickly turned violent, with local media reporting clashes between police and protesters in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere. Violent protests were reported in at least seven states.
According to Rahul Jain, the head of the Gwalior district administration in Madhaya Pradesh, three people were killed there when protests turned violent. There was one death each in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind and Morena districts, according to local officials.
Police imposed a curfew in parts of Madhya Pradesh immediately after the first death, police Supt. Ashish Singh from the Morena district told the journalists.Two people died in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, and one death was reported in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, local officials said.
In Punjab, the state with the highest percentage of India’s low-caste Dalit population, protesters effectively shut down the northern state, forcing the government to halt public transportation, close banks and educational institutions and postpone high school board exams.Not all the protests were violent or as large in scale, with peaceful demonstrations occurring in Delhi, the nation’s capital.Members of the higher caste sometimes consider them impure, and in certain places, they still aren’t allowed to enter the homes or temples of the upper-caste community or share utensils with them.
This practice, despite being unconstitutional, is still prevalent in parts of India, and Dalits continue to struggle with instances of discrimination, exclusion and violence.