The Chhattisgarh Assembly saw a tumultuous session on Wednesday, 19 July, with disruptions, loud slogans, and the suspension of Opposition MLAs.
The political row comes after two dozen tribal Dalit people stripped down and staged a protest on the first day of the Chhattisgarh Assembly session on Tuesday, 18 July, demanding action against fake caste certificate holders.
The protesters attempted to reach the state Assembly but were detained midway by Raipur Police. Over 29 people have been arrested in connection with the incident.
"On checking the mobile phones of the arrested accused, the obscene video made by them naked was also made viral in various social media groups. Police arrested 29 accused and registered crime no. 213/23 Section 146 (violence is used by an unlawful assembly), 147, 353, 332, 294 and 67 (A) of the IT Act have been registered and sent to jail," according to a press note by the police.
The youth were protesting against the issuance of fake caste certificates to people employed with the state government in Chhattisgarh.
Protesters Demand Action Against Fake Caste Certificate Holders
The leader of the protest, Vinay Kaushal, told the media that he had spoken with the officials on the fake certificate issue. He claimed that 250+ people have taken undue advantage by making fake caste certificates and are in government jobs.
"264 people are in government jobs based on fake caste certificates. We had fasted unto death on 16th May but nothing was done by the government and the administration in this matter. All we want is action against those who have taken wrong advantage by using fake certificates," he said.
Another protester said that they had staged a nude protest to grab attention and highlight the issue of fake caste certificates to the public and the government.
The incident grabbed the nation's attention as passers-by shot and circulated purported videos of men marching naked on the road and chanting slogans.
'Jungle Raj': BJP Attacks Congress Govt
The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) targeted the ruling Bhupesh Baghel-led government and questioned inaction against fake caste certificate holders.
"Troubled by the neglect of Bhupesh Sarkar, ST-SC youth were forced to perform naked in the capital Raipur. Why is Bhupesh sarkar not taking action against those doing government jobs by making 267 fake caste certificates?" the BJP tweeted.
Former state BJP president Raman Singh accused the Congress government of being insensitive towards the demands of the tribal and Dalit youth.
"The Dalit and tribal youth had lost all hopes of getting justice from this government. This government did not show sensitivity to the demands of the youth who have been requesting for action against fake caste certificate holders," Raman Singh told the media.
"The SC-ST youths were forced to stage nude protests. And even now the government has taken them into custody, they have once again presented the example of their Jungle Raj," he added.
An order letter of the General Administration Department of Chhattisgarh dated 25 November, 2020, had said that it has identified 267 cases of fake caste certificates between 2000-2020.
In response to the BJP's allegations, the Congress party said that action has been taken in 269 cases and 40 people have been terminated from their jobs, while 90 cases of termination have been stayed by the court and in 16 cases, the people are either deceased or retired.