Asks EU’s representatives in India to take up caste discrimination issue

The European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday conducted an hour-long debate over the persistence of human rights violations against Dalits in India.

While acknowledging the efforts at various levels to eradicate caste discrimination, the Parliament however, expressed alarm at the continually large number of reported and unreported atrocities and widespread untouchability practices, such as manual scavenging.

On its previous resolutions on the issue (February 2007 and April 2012), the Parliament noted that while India has made enormous economic progress, caste discrimination continues to be widespread and persistent.

It called upon the European Union’s and the Member States’ representatives in India to include the issue of caste discrimination in their dialogues with the Indian authorities, and to prioritise programmes addressing caste discrimination, in education, and programmes with particular focus on women and girls.

The Parliament instructed its President to forward this resolution, which was adopted unanimously by the EP, to India’s Prime Minister, Minister for Law and Justice, Home Minister, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, EU institutions, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, the Secretary-General of the UN and the President of the UN General Assembly.

The Parliament urged the Indian authorities to honour their pledges and to implement or, if necessary, amend the existing legislation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, in order to effectively protect Dalits and other vulnerable groups in society.

The Parliament particularly underlined the need for victims to be able to safely register their cases with the police and judicial authorities, as well as for serious follow-up by the police and judiciary of reported atrocities and other cases of discrimination.

“According to estimates, the vast majority of crimes against Dalit women are not reported owing to fear of social ostracism and threats to personal safety and security.”

It particularly noted the cases of a gang rape of a girl in Haryana where her father committed suicide and the police only decided to take belated action when faced with mass protests and the looting and torching of 268 Dalit houses by a 1,000 strong mob of upper castes in Dharmapuri, with no intervention from the police officers present.

It called upon the Indian Parliament to act on its plans to pass a new Bill prohibiting employment of manual scavengers and securing their rehabilitation.

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