Centre caught off guard by scale of Dalit protests

Home Ministry unaware of massive mobilisation, failed to send any advisory; Uttar Pradesh DGP says protesters ‘leaderless’

April 02, 2018 10:07 pm | Updated December 01, 2021 12:23 pm IST - New Delhi

Full support: Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani at a Dalit protest in Ahmedabad.

Full support: Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani at a Dalit protest in Ahmedabad.

The Centre was caught napping as a strike called by Dalit organisations in protest against a Supreme Court ruling turned violent in many parts of the country.

The Union Home Ministry did not send any advisory to the States, warning them of the scale of protests.

 

A senior official of the Ministry said law and order was a State subject. The State intelligence units had warned the governments of a massive build-up on Monday after the protest.

However, after violence erupted, 12 companies of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) were rushed to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.

Director-General of Police, Uttar Pradesh, O.P. Singh said the protesters were “leaderless”.

 

Another official said that though Internet services were suspended in many parts, including in Punjab, authorities were caught off guard by the massive mobilisation.

Mr. Singh said many anti-social elements joined the protests. “We had issued an advisory, and forces were ready but were not sure of the scale. The agitation became leaderless. They were neither giving a copy of their petition, nor were they budging from the protest site,” he told The Hindu .

‘Fully prepared’

Asked whether Madhya Pradesh received any advisory from the Centre, Director-General of Police Rishi Kumar Shukla said: “In any case, we were fully aware of what was happening and we were fully prepared.”

 

Five persons were killed in the State and curfew was imposed in many parts.

After the protests turned violent, the Home Ministry issued a statement that the State governments were asked to take preventive steps and ensure the safety of the people and property.

The Ministry said it was monitoring the situation and was in constant touch with the affected States.

“The Ministry has asked the States to take preventive measures, maintain public order and ensure the safety of the lives of people and property,” a Ministry spokesperson said.

The Ministry made available the RAF and the Central Reserve Police Force to the States that sought help.

Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab had so far requested for the Central forces, the spokesperson said.

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