SC/ST Act issue: Congress plans Dalit outreach

SC/ST Act issue: Congress plans Dalit outreach

With the SC/ST communities in a churn over the dilution of the anti-atrocities act by the Supreme Court, the Congress has decided to reach out to the Dalits, who once formed the key support base of the party.

Congress leaders are planning a massive rally at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday to press for  a demand for the  review of the Supreme Court directives on the dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

"About 8,000 protestors would converge on Parliament Street on Wednesday," Nitin Raut, the newly-appointed chairman of the All India Congress Committee SC Department said.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi is also expected to address a conference on Dalit issues,  which will be organised by the party on April 23 at the Talkatora Stadium.

The Supreme Court had on March 20 issued guidelines diluting the stringent provisions of the anti-atrocities law mandating the immediate arrest of a person, including government servants, on charges pressed under the law.

Arrests in such cases should be made only after approval from the appointing authority and senior superintendent of police, the court had ruled.

Dalits constitute almost 17% of India's population. If one adds STs, the total population of SCs and STs combined, as per the 2011 census, comes to 25% of the total population.

Over the years, Dalits had moved to Mayawati's BSP in Uttar Pradesh and later to the BJP.

The Congress retains its hold over Dalits in certain pockets but mostly the community has moved on to other political parties.

Last week, Gandhi had led a delegation of Opposition leaders to petition President Ram Nath Kovind on the dilution of the anti-atrocities act.

The BJP is facing the heat from the Dalit community over the Modi government's perceived lethargy on the issue of the anti-atrocities law.

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