BJP, Centre reach out to Dalits, say they stand shoulder to shoulder

Cong president questions PM’s silence
Report by: 
Agencies
NEW DELHI
3 Apr 2018

The BJP and the Centre today reached out to Dalits in the aftermath of their violent protests asserting that at every juncture they stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the community and accused the Congress of fuelling tension in the society with an eye on elections.
Asserting that the government is sensitive to the concerns of the backward communities, Union home minister Rajnath Singh today said it was not responsible for the dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Making a suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha during Zero Hour on the large scale violence during yesterday's Bharat Bandh, the home minister said eight people were killed -- six in Madhya Pradesh and one each in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, during the bandh which also witnessed clashes between the police and the protesters. "Through the House, I want to assure the people that there has been no dilution whatsoever by my government, rather after coming to power and examining the SC/ST prevention Atrocities Act, we have taken a decision to strengthen it," he said.
The remarks by BJP president Amit Shah and Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Thavarchand Gehlot expressing their commitment to protect the interests of the Dalit and the tribal community came even as Congress chief Rahul Gandhi hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "not uttering a word" on dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Dalit protests against the softening of the provisions of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by the Supreme Court erupted in large-scale violence in different parts of the country yesterday leaving nine dead, many injured and property worth crores destroyed. Several Dalit organisations had given a call for 'Bharat Bandh on Monday. In a series of tweets, Shah said a "microscopic minority of dejected and rejected political parties" made the people suffer and sought their apology to "Dalit sisters and brothers".  The BJP president also blamed "vested interest groups" for spreading the panic on the issue of reservation for Dalits, saying it is done before every election and asserted that the government will do everything to protect their rights.
Right from the day the apex court gave its judgment on the SC/ST atrocities act, the central government acted in an "immediate and informed" manner and has filed an effective review petition to protect the Dalits' rights, Shah said. He pointed out that Prime Minister Modi had met MPs belonging to the Scheduled Castes and had assured them that the government was doing everything to protect the rights and wellbeing of "our Dalit sisters and brothers." Congress president Rahul Gandhi today hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "not uttering a word" on the alleged atrocities on Dalits and tribals and "dilution" of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. His remarks at a public meeting here on the fifth leg of his tour of the poll-bound Karnataka came against the backdrop of violence in northern parts of the country during Monday's protests against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.