See More on Facebook

Curiosity, Politics

Caste protests disrupts India

A supreme court decision to review a discrimination law has prompted caste violence across India.


Written by

Updated: April 4, 2018

Dalit protests swept India’s caste-conscious north on April 2, leaving nine people dead and many injured. Dalits occupy the lowest rung of the Hindu caste stratification system.

Formerly known as “untouchables”, they took to the streets following a Supreme Court order diluting the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 that protects the community against discrimination. In its new ruling, the court said the law was being “rampantly misused” to settle personal scores.

The government has filed a petition in the Supreme Court asking for a rethink on the order. “We have filed a very comprehensive review (petition)…senior lawyers will argue (the case) with all authority,” India’s Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

The community’s protests brought life to a standstill in at least five states in the north, disrupting road and rail traffic and destroying public and private property worth millions of rupees.

In the heart of India – Madhya Pradesh state, which has a sizeable tribal population – six people were killed following the call for Bharat Bandh, a nationwide shutdown. Two people were killed in Uttar Pradesh, and one in Rajasthan. Violence was reported from parts of Punjab and Jharkhand.

The March 20 Supreme Court decision alleging rampant misuse of the act had hurt the feelings of Dalits, atrocities against whom were once described by the same court as “rarest of rare violence”.

An Amnesty International report says more than 40,000 crimes were reported against Dalits in 2016 alone. Several incidents were reported of members of dominant castes attacking Dalits for accessing public and social spaces or for perceived caste transgressions.

The diluted provisions of the law enable bail for the accused and protect public servants from being blackmailed with false cases.

However, statistics point at poor conviction rates. According to a report in Hindustan Times, in 2016, only 1.4 per cent of all crimes against scheduled castes that came up for trial ended in convictions; for scheduled tribes, the percentage was 0.8 per cent.

The same report cited a parliamentary panel for the ministry of social justice and empowerment attributing the low conviction rate to wilful negligence by officials. “A close scrutiny of cases revealed that the main reason for the low conviction rate was the bias of the officials involved in the investigation who left loopholes to help the people from their social backgrounds. This eventually led to the high acquittal rate.”

The main opposition Congress party’s leader Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged that incidents of atrocities on Dalits and minorities increased in the country since the National Democratic Alliance swept to power in 2014.

Dalits are still not allowed to attend the same temples and schools or draw water from the same wells as upper caste people. They are often found doing menial labour with 90 Dalit manual scavengers dying while cleaning clogged sewers in the recent past.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Lamat R Hasan
About the Author: Lamat is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Curiosity, Politics

China pledges international pandemic aid

 Producers of medical goods urged to meet demand from affected countries. China has pledged to do its best to offer aid to countries and international organisations affected by COVID-19 to help contain the outbreak, and businesses are being urged to boost production of epidemic prevention materials to meet demand from abroad. The announcement was made at a meeting of the leading group of China’s coronavirus response, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday. Relevant departments and local authorities must step up co-ordination to closely monitor and analyse the quick spread of the outbreak outside China and roll out more targeted measures to prevent the import and export of infection, the group said in a statement. It is important to further


By China Daily
March 13, 2020

Curiosity, Politics

Back to work in Beijing, with tough measures in place

 Mandatory quarantine for those coming from overseas; some Wuhan businesses may reopen. As most of China attempts to return to normalcy after an extensive lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the capital Beijing has been carefully trying to strike a balance between having people restart work while also trying to keep out imported infections, and yesterday ordered a mandatory quarantine for all international arrivals. This comes as the Hubei government announced that some businesses in Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicentre, would gradually be allowed to reopen. On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, his first visit to the city since the outbreak, a sign that the crisis could finally be easing after the government’s toug


By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020

Curiosity, Politics

Xi vows victory over coronavirus in Wuhan

President expresses condolences to families of people who died in epidemic. President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak remains the top priority and most important task, even amid the recent positive signs. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark during his inspection tour in the outbreak’s epicentre, Wuhan, capital of Hubei province. The spread of the novel coronavirus has been basically curbed in Hubei and Wuhan, Xi said, adding that initial success has been made in stabilising the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan. Xi encouraged local residents and front-line worke


By China Daily
March 11, 2020

Curiosity, Politics

China sets example in fighting virus

Epidemic reveals inadequacies in global governance; Beijing says it’s ready to help. China’s response to novel coronavirus pneumonia has set an example for the world in coping with the contagion and offered experience in advancing global public health governance, officials and experts said. The COVID-19 outbreak has also raised the alarm about global public health security and reminded countries that co-operation and co-ordination are needed to deal with challenges as infectious diseases can rapidly escalate into global emergencies, they said. There is a growing positive momentum in epidemic control nationwide thanks to the “comprehensive, thorough and rigorous” measures that China has taken to contain the virus, they said, noting that the daily


By China Daily
March 10, 2020

Curiosity, Politics

More than 800,000 people return Beijing under quarantine

“There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. About 827,000 people who came back to Beijing from outside the city are still in a 14-day quarantine to see if they had been infected with the novel coronavirus, an official said on Friday. “There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. Z


By China Daily
March 9, 2020

Curiosity, Politics

South Korea declares third city as special care zone as cases spike

President Moon receives letter of support from North Korean leader as infected cases cross 6,000. South Korea has declared a third city a “special care zone” to boost its capability to fight a spike in coronavirus infections, with cases nationwide soaring beyond 6,000. The death toll stands at 42, mostly the elderly with underlying health conditions, while 88 people have recovered, including 47 discharged yesterday. The care zone announcement came as the presidential Blue House revealed that South Korean President Moon Jae-in received a letter on Wednesday from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressing support and comfort to the people battling the coronavirus outbreak, adding that he is confident they will “prevail in this fight wit


By The Straits Times
March 6, 2020