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India’s lower-caste Dalits call for shutdown over apex court’s ruling

Published: April 10, 2018

STORY: Curfew and restrictions were imposed in parts of India on Tuesday (April 10) as groups of India’s lower-caste Dalit community called for a nationwide shutdown against a Supreme Court ruling that allegedly dilutes a law meant to protect them from discrimination.

The shutdown came a week after eight people were killed and several injured in a similar protest. Heavy security deployment was made in India’s central Madhya Pradesh state, where six people were killed in last week’s protest. Around 1,100 security personnel were deployed across Morena city, police officials said.

Streets in northern Ludhiana and northwestern Jaipur cities wore a deserted look and traffic stayed off the roads. Meanwhile, a counter-protest was held in northern Varanasi city with protesters demanding a law for safeguarding the people in the non-reserved categories and that caste-based reservation in India be done away with.

Dalit organisations called for protests after the Supreme Court ruled last month that arrests under a law meant to speed action on complaints of violence against Dalits required prior approval from officials, and barred the immediate arrest of those accused in such complaints. Dalits are at the bottom of India’s ancient caste hierarchy and have historically faced various forms of discrimination including segregation and social boycott, in addition to violence.

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