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Bharat Bandh in Punjab: Protests clash with police across state, bus-train services takes hit

Chandigarh: Reports of violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement agencies emerged from across Punjab as Dalit groups marched protesting against Supreme Court’s order to dilute of the SC/ST Act. Schools, colleges remained closed during the Bharat Bandh while bus and train services took a hit. Public and private transport remained off the road.

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) postponed all Class 12 and 10 examinations. The state also curtailed the mobile and internet connectivity. “Taking cognisance of the letter of the director general (school education), the CBSE decided to postpone all class 12 and 10 examinations scheduled for April 2 , 2018 in the state of Punjab. Exams will carry on as per schedule in UT of Chandigarh and rest of the country,” said a release from the board.

Early on Monday morning, protests intensified in Chandigarh, Ambala and Rohtak. Train services between Ambala and Kalka railway line and around Patiala was affected.

Amid tight security arrangements, the Dalits held protests at Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Ropar, Bathinda, Amritsar and Ferozepur in Punjab against the dilution of the Act, reported news agency PTI.

The Congress-led Punjab government had on Sunday ordered a security clampdown as a precautionary measure, while the Army and paramilitary forces have been asked to be on standby to prevent any exigency.

Noting instances of abuse using SC/ST Act against government servants, the Supreme Court on March 20 ruled that a public servant can only be arrested after approval of the appointing authority. Whereas a non-public servant can be arrested after approval by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) which may be granted in appropriate cases if considered necessary for reasons recorded.

The verdict come under a barrage of criticism from several counters including Dalit groups and organisations.
On Monday morning, the protests turned violent across the country with one person dying in police fire.

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