Following reports of increasing atrocities against Dalits in Maharashtra, the state government is considering a proposal to initiate a campaign at village level to curb violence against Dalits.

At least three cases of alleged caste violence have been reported in last one week alone from different parts of the state. The ruling Congress-NCP alliance has come under severe criticism not only from the opposition but also from its own workers to initiate strict action to check increasing crimes against Dalits.

On Wednesday, the issue was discussed in the state cabinet meeting. According to a minister who was present, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan asked the home, rural development and social justice ministries to formulate a comprehensive proposal for a state wide campaign against such atrocities.

“We already have a ‘Tanta Mukti Abhiyan (Alternative Dispute Resolution campaign) at the village level. This campaign will be on the same lines,” said the minister.

Many Congress leaders termed it as an important step, especially at a time when state assembly elections are few months away.

The opposition too has demanded stern action from the government. BJP leader Gopinath Munde, who visited the village of Nitin Aage, a 17-year-old Dalit boy who was allegedly killed by upper caste men for speaking with a girl, demanded the resignation of Home Minister R R Patil. Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe too has accused the government of inaction.

Nitin Raut, the Congress leader and cabinet minister of Employment Guarantee and Water Conservation, on Tuesday had demanded a special cabinet meeting on the issue.

“The increasing number of atrocities against Dalits is a matter of concern for the government which is in power for last 13 years. The cases have increase in last three years. This sensitive issue needs to be handled well-in-time,” said the letter sent by the minister to Mr. Chavan.