NEW DELHI: As protests by Dalit outfits turned violent in various parts of the country including in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the Centre today asked the state governments to take preventive steps and ensure the safety of lives of people and property, an official spokesperson said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said it was closely monitoring the situation and was in constant touch with the affected states after violent protests erupted during a nationwide bandh called by Dalit outfits against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which left at least four people dead in Madhya Pradesh and many injured.
"The ministry has asked the states to take all preventive measures and maintain public order and ensure the safety of lives of people and property," the MHA spokesperson said.
The ministry has made available central forces - Rapid Action Force and CRPF - to the states that sought help.
Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab have so far requested for central forces, the spokesperson said.
Another home ministry official said the central government rushed 800 anti-riot policemen to Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Curfew was imposed in Morena, Gwalior and Bhind districts of Madhya Pradesh after a student leader died in firing and several others were injured.
Violence was also reported from many districts of Uttar Pradesh including Azamgarh where protesters torched two state-run buses, injuring several passengers.
Protests turned violent in Agra, Hapur, Meerut in western UP.
The Supreme Court had on March 20 diluted certain provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, in a bid to protect 'honest' public servants discharging bona fide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Act.
The verdict is being widely criticised by the Dalits and the Opposition who claim that the dilution of the Act will lead to more discrimination and crimes against the backward community.