NEW DELHI/BHOPAL, April 2 - At least seven persons were killed and many injured in violence today as Dalit protesters blocked trains, clashed with police and set fire to vehicles across several states during a nationwide bandh against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, officials said.
While five were killed in cross-firing in Madhya Pradesh alone, one each died in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, according to officials there.
Curfew was imposed in several places and hundreds were detained. The Army and paramilitary forces were also put on standby in Punjab.
The Union Home Ministry, which rushed 800 anti-riot policemen to MP and UP, asked all states to take preventive steps and maintain public order to ensure safety of lives and property.
Transport, mobile and internet services were hit in many states with over 100 trains getting affected due to protests, even as the Centre moved the Supreme Court seeking review of its recent judgement on the SC/ST Act, maintaining that the verdict will violate constitutional rights of these communities.
While some states had ordered closure of educational institutions as a precautionary measure, incidents of arson, firing and vandalism were reported from MP, UP, Rajasthan, Bihar and Punjab, among other places.
In MP, two died in Gwalior, two in Bhind and one in Morena.
In UP, one person was killed in Muzaffarnagar and nearly 75 persons including 40 policemen were injured in violent protests in various parts of the state. Police has detained nearly 450 people there.
In Rajasthan, one person was killed and 26 others, including nine policemen, were injured in Alwar.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh appealed for peace, while Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government was not a party to the Supreme Court decision on the SC/ST Act and �respectfully� did not agree with its reasoning behind the verdict.
Prasad also said the government has filed a very comprehensive review petition in the matter. Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, a prominent Dalit leader and head of NDA constituent LJP, appreciated the government�s quick decision. � PTI