Fear of consequences stops many from filing police complaint, says an activist

Sandhyamani, a Dalit woman residing in Jakkanahalli, was beaten black and blue by a man identified as Lingaraju belonging to her own village in Tiptur taluk in Tumkur district. The man allegedly hurled abuses at her in full public view and even tore her clothes. Her fault was that her sheep had entered the farmland of Mr. Lingaraju.

“I don’t know whether my sheep had really entered Mr. Lingaraju’s farmland. But, he beat me so badly and abused me so much that I wanted to end my life then and there,” said a distraught Sandhyamani.

She is one among the very few Dalit women who file a police complaint against their tormentors. Many such cases go unreported as women fear the consequences that they would have to face after they file a police complaint.

The incidence of atrocities on the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is increasing in Tumkur district.

District convener of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti Kundur Thimmaiah told The Hindu that in most cases, the person who inflicts atrocity on Dalits are influential persons and the police do not arrest them immediately after the complaint is filed. Instead, an attempt is made to settle the matter by engaging both the accused and the victim in a dialogue.

According to Mr. Kundur Thimmaiah, 95 per cent of the cases of atrocities are reported from places dominated by Vokkaligas and Lingayats. Members of the upper castes threaten the Dalits of dire consequences if they do not withdraw the cases against them. So, many times the Dalits succumb to the pressure, he added. Mr. Kundur Thimmaiah alleged that many a time when a Dalit files a police complaint, a counter complaint is lodged against him/her. In such a situation, chances are that the victim loses the atrocity case in the court as a counter case is booked against him, so more than 50 per cent of atrocity cases go unreported.

In many atrocity cases, perpetrators of crime are not brought to book for lack of evidence against them. The witnesses are summoned by the court after 2 to 3 years after the incident. During that time, witnesses are lured with money or threatened so they turn hostile in the court and the accused are given a clean chit, Mr. Kundur Thimmaiah said.

District vice-president of the Dalit Jagruti Samiti Dalit Narayan told The Hindu that in the 90 per cent of the atrocity cases, the guilty are not punished for lack of evidence, and only 10 per cent of them are brought to book. He added that though inflicting atrocity on any one is a non-bailable offence, people who indulge in it are usually granted bail as the police do not register the case under appropriate sections of the IPC.

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