A day after Dalits protested across the country against a Supreme Court ruling, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot on Tuesday accused the opposition parties of provoking the protesters that led to arson and deaths."We had appealed to the opposition parties to take the agitation back. However, they provoked the Scheduled Castes and Tribes... seven people died, several properties were damaged, clashes happened. Opposition parties, which played negative role, are responsible for this," Gehlot told a press conference here.Reacting to Congress President Rahul Gandhi's remark that the DNA of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party was anti-SCs and STs, the Minister said: "The BJP is the only party that worked to protect the interest of SCs and STs. Whenever we got a chance, we took the opportunity to make historic decision for them."
On March 20, the Supreme Court had ruled that the arrest of an accused under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 was not mandatory and the recourse to coercive action would be taken only after a preliminary inquiry and sanction by a competent authority.There was no absolute bar against the grant of anticipatory bail in cases under the Act if no prima facie case is made out or where on judicial scrutiny the complaint is found to be prima facie mala fide, the apex court added.Gehlot said the Congress did not even let the portrait of Dr B.R. Ambedkar be installed in the Central Hall of Parliament. "It was installed by the then V.P. Singh government after the BJP proposed it." The Minister claimed that the Narendra Modi government had strengthened the Act of 1989 by making certain amendments.