Civil society groups have called for a general strike to be held in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, September 6, to denounce a recent amendment to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. According to local sources, demonstrations will be organized in cities throughout Madhya Pradesh state. Similar demonstrations are also possible in other cities throughout India. A heightened security presence and associated transportation disruptions are to be anticipated in the vicinity of any demonstrations.
On March 20, the Indian Supreme Court decreed that anti-discrimination rules within the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act had often not been correctly applied. The court modified stipulations within the law, including authorization for police to arrest individuals suspected of discrimination; the court ruled that an arrest for discrimination can only be made after an investigation into the incident. In August, the Indian government passed a bill amending the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Act, which ruled out any provisions requiring that a preliminary investigation be carried out before an arrest can be made for discrimination.
The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act aims to limit discrimination toward the Dalit (untouchable) population and other groups subject to increased prejudice and discrimination.
Individuals in affected areas are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.