With the persisting practices of temple entry denial and separate utensils in hotels, “it seems we are frozen in time,” says NCSC chief
Data collated by the National Crime Records Bureau for 2012 shows that 12.23 per cent crimes were committed against the Scheduled Castes, with Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh reporting the highest number of incidents. But the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is more worried that many cases go unreported.
On Wednesday, Union Minister Kumari Selja expressed concern over the continuing atrocities and said it was worrying that the SCs still did not feel safe to come out and report crimes perpetuated against them.
“The SC and Scheduled Tribe communities need to come out and speak. They should feel safe; they are sometimes pressurised and that is how so many cases go unreported,” she said, speaking at a National Conference on Protection of Civil Rights and Prevention of Atrocities on Scheduled Castes here.
Referring to the NCRB data, the Minister said the cases registered revealed a staggering number of such crimes but the magnitude of the problem would be assessed better if the unreported cases were taken into account as well.
Last year 39,512 cases were registered under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, in conjunction with the Indian Penal Code, according to the NCRB figures.
Endorsing the Minister’s views, National Commission for Scheduled Castes Chairman P.L. Punia pointed out that Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal had a sizable SC population but much fewer cases were reported — a trend that needed to be examined.
“There is a provision in the law that says if the case is not registered by the police, then the aggrieved person can file a petition under 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure before a magistrate, and the Commission has learnt that the number of such petitions is very high. In Uttar Pradesh, in 2009, as many as 43 murder and 41 rape cases were not registered,” Mr. Punia said.
Punjab, which has the highest number of SCs, followed by West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh, however, do not figure in the NCRB list of 14 States with a high percentage of crime against the SCs.
According to the NCSC, of the total cases of crime against the SCs, 93 per cent have been reported from the States of Rajasthan (51.34%), Andhra Pradesh (24.59 %), Odisha (19.20%), Madhya Pradesh (18.88%), Uttar Pradesh (18.34%), Bihar (16.16%), Karnataka (15.31%), Gujarat (13.43%), Tamil Nadu (13.43%) and Jharkhand (12.10%).
“In Odisha, there still are temples that do not allow entry of Dalits; in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, there are hotels that have separate utensils for them; and in Haryana, even today a groom on horseback from the SC community cannot pass in front of a so-called upper caste’s house. When we see such atrocities, it seems we are frozen in time,” Mr. Punia said.