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Details on manual scavenging cases continue to be absent from NCRB reports

A file photograph of a protest against manual scavenging in New Delhi in September 2018. Photograph used for representational purposes only

A file photograph of a protest against manual scavenging in New Delhi in September 2018. Photograph used for representational purposes only   | Photo Credit: Varun Gupta

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The ‘Crime in India’ reports released by the National Crime Records Bureau over the last two years do not provide data on these cases

The ‘Crime in India’ reports released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2017 and 2018 continue to fail in providing data on cases filed under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (PEMSR) Act of 2013.

A separate column listing the number of cases filed for offences related to manual scavenging was available under the Special and Local Laws (SLL) section until 2015. In 2016, the NCRB said that it was clubbing data on manual scavenging and 10 more SLLs under the ‘Other SLL Cases’ column since only ‘very few cases’ are reported under these Acts.

It is another issue that even the NCRB report of 2015 listed The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act of 1993 instead of the PEMSR Act that came into force in 2013.

In the 2017 and 2018 reports, the NCRB has partially gone back on its decision of 2016 and has reduced the clubbing of cases under ‘Other SLL cases.’

In his foreword to the 2017 report, NCRB Director Ram Phal Pawar said, “Owing to the detailed data collection proforma, the clubbing of crimes under ‘Other’ Indian Penal Code (IPC) and SLL have been reduced so as to have better visibility. The publication is more detailed as compared to previous years.”

Through this move, around 20 acts that were hitherto clubbed under ‘Other SLL Cases’ were listed separately in the 2017 and 2018 reports. These include acts like The Telegraph Wire Unlawful Possession Act of 1950 that had zero cases registered in 2018 and just 2 cases in 2017.

282 deaths in three years

In a reply to the Lok Sabha on December 3, 2019, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said that 282 deaths while cleaning sewers were reported in the country from 2016 till the first week of November 2019 as per data available with National Commission for Safai Karamcharis. Tamil Nadu topped the list with 40 deaths.

Villupuram MP and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi general secretary D. Ravikumar, who last year questioned in the Lok Sabha, the inordinate delay in releasing NCRB reports for 2017, said that the unavailability of data on manual scavenging was in line with the present Union government’s ‘strategy’ of obfuscating, withholding and manipulating data.

“Whenever data on such sensitive issues like violence against children, women or farmer suicides come out, there is widespread discussion. The government does not want that,” he said, adding that the government wanted to make obtaining data as difficult as possible.

He said that the government must pro-actively provide data on such important issues instead of furnishing data under unnecessary crime heads. “If they really want to address the issues, making data available will only be of help,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 7:40:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/details-on-manual-scavenging-cases-continue-to-be-absent-from-ncrb-reports/article30542365.ece

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