Dalit activists who attended the monthly Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) meeting here on Sunday alleged that the district police had not taken initiative to address the complaints of Dalits.
M.M. Naik, a Scheduled Tribe leader, said the delay in processing of two complaints filed three months ago involving harassment of Dalits in Puttur taluk had not been charge-sheeted. Because of this, he alleged, the complainant loses hope and withdraws the complaint, while the assaulters are emboldened and continue to harass the men in order to withdraw the complaint. “Compensation guaranteed to them under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is also delayed. In this case, justice delayed is justice denied,” he said.
While one complaint was filed by Venkatappa Naik, who said he was assaulted and abused by four men, in the other complaint filed at the Kadaba Police Station, Padmanabha Naik said he was assaulted by one person. Both cases relate to property disputes.
Assistant Superintendent of Police, Puttur sub-division, M.N. Anucheth, who chaired the meeting, said as these cases related to property claims, they were waiting for the tahsildar’s report on the disputed property. However, he said he would investigate if the cases can be taken up as Atrocity cases.
Gopal Kadumath, from Vitla, said that with lack of police outreach, there was a fear among the Dalits to file a complaint. He cited the instance of a woman who was being threatened by her husband who had abandoned her on finding out she was pregnant. “She is scared to go to a police station and file a case with the police. It would have helped if police officials had visited Dalit colonies often to imbibe a sense of confidence in the residents,” he said.
Taking this forward, another Dalit representative present said patrolling of police jeeps in the areas populated by people from socially and economically backward classes live had stopped. He said the SC/ST meetings at Bantwal Police Station are not held regularly held and most of the Dalit organisations are not informed about these meetings.