Dalit activists demonstrate in Canada in support of call for Bharat bandh

Dalit activists in Canada staged a rally at Holland Park in Surrey on Sunday, April 1, in support of the organisers of the Bharat bandh called for on Monday, April 2. The Bandh has been called in India against “attempts at rewriting criminal law through court directives.” More than two dozen people came out to demonstrate at the Holland Park rally, which was backed by the Ambedkar International Social Reform Organization (AISRO) of Canada. 

AISRO has in recent months stepped up its efforts against the increasing atrocities taking place towards Dalits under the dispensation of the ruling regime Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP. Sunday’s demonstration in Holland Park was staged to oppose recent efforts to water down laws enacted to prevent violence against Dalits. Owing to large-scale discontent and protests from various progressive sections against the March 20 order alleging “misuse” of the Atrocities act, the central government  has filed a review petition challenging the Supreme Court’s order just hours ago. In it, it is likely to have told the Supreme Court that its March 20 order prohibiting automatic arrests and registration of cases regarding crimes against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs) will weaken the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989.  The SC’s order includes permitting anticipatory bail for those accused under the Act, and a mandatory “preliminary inquiry” to be carried out by a Deputy Superintendent of Police. The court’s order is purportedly an attempt at preventing public servants from supposedly being blackmailed by false cases under the Act.


Demonstrators at the Canada rally raised slogans against the BJP, and its affiliated Hindu nationalist organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and declared their support for Monday’s proposed Bharat bandh, pledging to bolster the Dalit movement in India. They also unanimously condemned attacks against other minorities in India under the BJP government. Speakers at the rally included AISRO co-founders Rashpal Singh Bhardwaj, Ratan Paul, and Surinder Singh Sandhu, along with Indian Rationalist Society leader Avtar Gill. Gurpreet Singh and Parshotam Dosanjh, members of Indians Abroad for Pluralist India, also attended the rally. 

Numerous Dalit organisations have proposed a Bharat bandh on Monday, April 2, and a group of Dalit legislators is set to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the Supreme Court’s order, as well as other issues plaguing the SC/ST community. As of writing this, protests have taken place in Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat and Rajasthan, as well as in Odisha, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh.



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