On 02 April, at least eleven people lost their lives in several Indian states during a strike (bandh) called for by Dalits. Dozens of others were injured in clashes with security forces. This day of action also entailed roadblocks, stone-pelting of trains, and arson attacks on stores. In its suite, violence against Dalits increased in several regions.

“Strikes tend to quickly escalate into massive violence in India, even before security forces can intervene.”

Bandhs or Hartals occur in many parts of South Asia, for instance also in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Though they may be connected to issues of ethnicity or religion, they are frequently declared at the occasion of general political or economic issues. Bandhs continue to be occasionally accompanied by a threat of violence to people and businesses.

For instance, attacks on bus operators which ignore the call for the strike constitute a risk to travellers in India. The enforced closure of sites correlates with a higher risk of burglary and looting. Furthermore, travellers and expats might come to be surprised by restrictions to road and rail traffic as well as by internet blockages implemented by local authorities.

Photo credit: Vishma thapa | License: Creative Commons

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