Following is the full text of the statement:
Yesterday, there have been incidences of violence and arson in some parts of the country. During Bharat Bandh, 8 people lost their lives in violence. (M.P 06, U.P 01 & Rajasthan 01). During the bandh, there have been clashes between the police and the protesters.
I would like to convey my deep condolences for the people who have lost their lives.
I fully appreciate that there is widespread anger amongst the people, following the Supreme Court order. I wish to inform the house that Government of India was not party in that case. People have taken to the streets.
Through the House, I want to assure the people that there has been no dilution in whatsoever by my Government, rather after coming to power and examining the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, we have taken a decision to strengthen it. In 1995, the Government passed the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) (PoA) Amendment Act. As part of the amendment to SC/ST PoA Act, new offences were added. It was observed that due to the delay in filing of charge sheet, the victims/witness who were vulnerable were influenced and silenced. In order to protect them, the provision of witness protection was introduced. The compensation payable to the victims was also enhanced. There has been a new provision where action against Government Servants shall be taken against those found negligent in implementing the Act.
Immediately after the judgement of Supreme Court, a decision was taken by my Government to file a review petition in the Supreme Court. The Ld. Attorney General has made an appeal in the Supreme Court for an urgent hearing and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the matter at 2 o'clock today. This shows the prompt action by Government and does not leave any doubt regarding the intention of the Government to protect the interest of the SC/ST. I wish to also inform that after the judgement of the Supreme Court on 20th March, 2018 within the span of only six working days, without losing any time and acting swiftly, the Government has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court.
I also wish to inform that there have been widespread rumours regarding the issue of reservation which are false and baseless.
Our Government is fully committed to protect the interests of the SC/ST community. We have issued advisory to all the States to ensure that no breach of Law and Order takes place and safety of lives of citizens and properties are ensured. We have provided all assistance to the States immediately on their request. The Home Ministry is keeping a close vigil and is in constant touch with the State Governments.
Through this House, I appeal to all the citizens to maintain peace and harmony amongst themselves. I also appeal to all the Political parties to help maintain peace and harmony."
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