Superintendent of Police A.S. Rao took the officers of the district police to task for their alleged “discriminatory and negligent” attitude towards Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.

“Police officers do not deserve to sit in their chairs if they cannot offer assistance to the most marginalised sections of society,” Mr. Rao said and called upon the officers to introspect on how they were responding to complaints lodged by Dalits.

He was responding to allegations of police partisanship made by the Dalits at the monthly grievance meeting here on Sunday. The meeting, which was attended by sub-inspectors and circle inspectors from across the district, was dominated by allegations of the police not paying due attention to complaints of Dalits and humiliating them for complaining against certain powerful people.

“You are all qualified and matured officers of the State police and all you should be responsive to calls for help from underprivileged people,” he said.

As per law, cases filed by Dalits under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, should be investigated by an officer of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and above. “Make sure that, even while receiving complaints under this Act, an officer of the rank of sub-inspector is given the job,” he said. Warning the officers against allowing such complaints to be received by constables, head constables and assistant sub-inspectors, he said cases filed under the Act should be given utmost priority.

Responding to an incident of the Belthangady police dismissing a case related to the encroachment of a Dalit's land by some caste Hindus, Additional Superintendent of Police R. Ramesh said, “Trespassing or encroachment of a Dalit's land and property attracts criminal charges under the SC/ST Act. They should not be dismissed as civil disputes.”

Mr. Rao said that land was often the central issue, when it came to Dalits, and in such casesthe police should play a proactive role. On the allegations that the monthly SC/ST grievance meetings at the police station-level were not being held, Mr. Rao said that such meetings were part of the schedule and should be conducted on the third Sunday of every month. He called upon the police officers to use such meetings as a platform to create awareness among Dalits about the provisions of the SC/ST Atrocities Act. “Most people from SC/ST communities are not fully aware of their rights and the protective provisions of the Act. It is our duty to educate and empower them,” he said.

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