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Non-Dalit criminals sparked Muzaffarnagar violence: Uttar Pradesh Police

People belonging to the Dalit community shout slogans as they are detained by the police during a protest following a nationwide strike called by Dalit organizations

"When the case on the SC/ST Act was going on in the Supreme court, the Centre did not make efforts to defend the stand of the Government in the court", senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said.

The protests began peacefully but quickly turned violent with the local media reporting clashes between the police and protestors in Madhya Pradesh and at least seven other states.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "I wish to convey that today (Monday) we've filed a petition on the judgement by Supreme Court on the SC/ST act".

Several activists and rights groups, including Catholic Church officials, have backed the protest, saying the guidelines have rendered the law toothless as those who act against socially poor people can easily influence police.

Across the affected states, groups hurled stones, bottles and burning sticks at police and set buses on fire.

Meanwhile, Khare said no arrest was made in connection with yesterdays violence that left four people dead in Bhind district, around 500 km from state capital Bhopal. This has taken the nationwide death toll from the protests to 11, including two in Uttar Pradesh.

MP Congress chief Arun Yadav alleged that the state government was entirely responsible for the violence. Pathak had suffered bullet wounds during the protests in Morena when he was passing through the area during the Bharat Bandh.

The Dalits are lowest in Hinduism's caste hierarchy and for centuries were marginalized and forced to perform only certain jobs considered menial by other castes. Dalits are an equally strong presence in north Indian states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, where assembly polls are due by the year end.

On March 20, the apex court ruled that public servants accused of hate crimes are to be prosecuted only after approval from the appointing authority and civilian delinquents can be arrested only after a legal inquiry, to be conducted by the Deputy Superintendent of Police to ensure that the allegations are not frivolous. Reports suggest that hundreds were injured in clashes with police, or in some places, with upper caste organisations like the Karni Sena in Rajasthan.

Conviction rates dropped sharply from 38 percent in 2010 to 16 percent in 2016 for crimes against Dalits, and from 26 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2016 for crimes against indigenous people, according to a report in the Indian Express.

"Earlier in similar protests, Dalit and indigenous people fought independently of each other, but this time everyone has joined", said the prelate, who is based in the tribal district of Chhattisgarh.

Although he backed the protests, Mevani said, he was opposed to any damage to public property.

Dalits are among the most marginalised groups in a country where caste discrimination is outlawed but remains widespread.

Curfew imposed on Monday in parts of Gwalior, Bhind and Morena districts continued on Tuesday.

The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was brought into law to prevent crimes against people belonging to lower castes and tribes in India.

On Thursday, a young Dalit farmer was beaten to death in the state of Gujarat by several upper-caste men for owning and riding a horse, seen as a symbol of power and wealth.