Heinous crimes against Dalits, particularly women, are on the rise in Tirunelveli, Madurai, Ramanathapuram districts among others in the State.
A survey conducted on Dalit murders in 28 districts in the State has revealed that the investigations of such crimes were far from satisfactory. What is shocking is that in a majority of complaints, the police, instead of booking the suspects, were trying to strike a compromise between the victim’s families and the accused.
There were undue delays at every stage after the crimes were reported. For instance, the police do not register an FIR on receipt of the complaint. The post-mortem copy was not furnished to the victim’s families. The charge-sheet was not filed on time in almost 99 per cent of the cases.
Lastly, the police have not only arrested the key suspects after a long time, but did not raise objections when the suspects sought anticipatory bail. Yet another finding was that the weapons used by the murderers were not seized.
Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO studied 102 cases reported across Tamil Nadu to come up with these startling revelations. Speaking to The Hindu on Saturday, its executive director A. Kadir said the data showed that 73 victims were casual workers; 12 employed in private firms and two government employees.
Eleven cases were reported in Tirunelveli district, followed by 10 each in Madurai and Ramanathapuram districts, nine in Tuticorin and five each in Cuddalore, Vellore, Thanjavur, Sivaganga and Virudhunagar.
In 76 incidents, Dalits were attacked by caste Hindus in a gang or groups. In 26 cases, the victims were attacked by individuals. The motive revolved around untouchability (91 cases), while in 14 cases it was due to dispute over immovable properties, love affair, clashes at temple festivals and so on. In 27 cases, women were murdered — in seven cases they had been raped before the murder
Human rights activists said the pattern of crimes against Dalits suggested that there was vengeance, especially against those who owned immovable properties in villages or if they had a good track record of educational qualification than the caste Hindus and others. In some cases, it showed that a marriage between caste Hindu boy and Dalit girl had ended in violent deaths.
The government’s action should instil confidence and the custodians of law should book the culprits then and there. Above all, speedy disposal of cases by judiciary was essential as conviction rate was far from satisfactory, said Mr. Kadir.