Indian Army called in as death toll rises in nationwide protests by Dalits

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Indian Army called in as death toll rises in nationwide protests by Dalits

BHOPAL*: *Five people died and six others were injured in Madhya Pradesh today as Dalits hit the roads, which, they said diluted a law that ensured their safety.

The Army was called in to control the situation in Bhind, and the authorities declared curfew in three districts.

Two persons died in police firing in Gwalior, one in Bhind and one in adjoining Morena. One of the people killed was a student leader, identified as Rahul Pathak. He was shot during the clashes between the protesters and the police in Morena and died on way to hospital, reported news agency Press Trust of India, quoting senior police officer Umesh Shukla.

As the violence escalated, the entire Morena town was placed under prohibitory orders, which bans a gathering of more than three people. Curfew was also imposed in adjoining Gwalior and Bhind districts, officials said.

Major cities like Bhopal and Indore, too, saw violence. Trains were stopped at many places, including Morena. The government had blocked cellphone internet in all three districts after the violence broke out.

A report from Jhabua said protesters looted shops during the agitation, triggering tension in the tribal town, reported news agency Press Trust of India.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has appealed to the protesters to maintain peace in the state, saying the Centre has already filed a petition in the Supreme Court, asking for a review of its order regarding a law meant for protection of Dalits and Scheduled Tribes against atrocities. Two weeks ago, the top court changed two key provisions of the stringent SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, stopping the immediate arrest an accused and introducing a provision for bail.

Dalit groups have accused the government of failing to present their case properly in court and demanded that it filed a review petition.