To have or not to have separate burial grounds for Dalits

July 05, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 05:47 am IST - BENGALURU:

On the first day of the monsoon session, the Upper House witnessed a heated debate over providing separate burial grounds for the Dalit communities.

Citing Constitutional provisions, Congress member V.S. Ugrappa strongly opposed providing separate burial grounds for the Dalits in all villages. He said it amounted to segregation and “infringement of fundamental rights.”

The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and a few Congress members pushed for separate burial grounds saying that it was the only way to ensure that the Dalits could bury their dead with dignity.

‘Promoting untouchability’

When Minister for Social Welfare H. Anjaneya announced on the floor of the House that the government had earmarked Rs. 40 crore to acquire land in phases to develop burial grounds for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, responding to a question raised by Congress member Motamma, Mr. Ugrappa took exception and dubbed the move as “promoting the practice of untouchability.”

He even urged Chairman of the Legislative Council D.H. Shankaramurthy to withhold the written answer provided by the Minister.

However, D.S. Veeraiah of the Congress said that not providing separate grounds could result in “caste and communal conflicts”. He demanded continuation of the existing practice of having separate burial grounds for the Dalits. Intervening in the debate, Minister for Health and Family Welfare K.R. Ramesh Kumar said the issue should be resolved by taking both the Constitutional provisions and the ongoing societal practices into consideration.

To another question raised by Jayamma (Congress), Mr. Anjaneya promised to create a special cell and appoint a special officer for nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes, whose population in the State has crossed the five-lakh mark. Admitting that only 27 of the 120 residential schools for SC and ST girl students have female wardens, the Minister promised to fill 93 posts in the next three months.

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