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Five States to initiate review of protection of Dalit rights

world of injustice: A Dalit victim of violence narrates his story at a meeting held over the weekend in Jaipur to assess the impact of a recent study on infringement of Dalit rights.

world of injustice: A Dalit victim of violence narrates his story at a meeting held over the weekend in Jaipur to assess the impact of a recent study on infringement of Dalit rights.  

Landmark study in Rajasthan to be replicated in Bihar, UP, MP, Maharashtra and Karnataka

A recent study on the role of statutory institutions in protection of Dalit rights in Rajasthan, which prompted the State Government to take action in 31 cases of atrocities against members of Scheduled Castes, is proposed to be replicated in five other States in the country.

Civil rights activists and Dalit victims of violence and discrimination highlighted the study's findings and deliberated on the specific instances investigated by it at an impact assessment meeting here over the weekend. Victims narrated accounts of atrocities and provided details of action taken as a result of the study.

The Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and the Centre for Dalit Rights had jointly conducted the study which looked into the role of statutory bodies such as the State Human Rights Commission, Commission for Scheduled Castes, Women's Commission and the State Assembly's Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes.

Addressing the meeting, PRIA's Delhi director Manoj Rai said similar studies would be undertaken shortly in five States – Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka – where there is a “high prevalence” of crimes against Dalits. The interventions made in Rajasthan would serve as the benchmark for the study's replication in the five States, he added.

CDR patron P. L. Mimorth said the frequency of crimes against Scheduled Castes in the State had increased over the years. These cases involve murder, rape, denial of access to public places, encroachment on land allotted to Dalits, untouchability and physical assault.

The participants noted that the PRIA-CDR study had made a tremendous impact on the State Government. Though the cases discussed in the study had previously been referred to different Commissions, forums and Government departments, the victims had not been given any relief.

Lakshman Singh Jatav from Bharatpur said the case of his daughter's gang-rape and her subsequent suicide, which was earlier hushed up, has since been reopened and the accused arrested. Financial relief of Rs.50, 000 has been provided to his family.

In a horrifying case of a Dalit woman beaten up and murdered at Nadbai in Bharatpur district, orders for action were given by the Chief Minister's Office, after which the anticipatory bail application of the accused was rejected and they were arrested. Financial relief of Rs. 75,000 has been provided in the case, said Meethalal Jatav.

Most of the cases analysed and investigated in the study were registered under the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The Home Department has taken up 31 cases with the authorities concerned and given relief to most of the victims within a span of six months.

PRIA State coordinator Krishan Tyagi said the statutory bodies should be held accountable for their work, and their style of functioning should be changed to bring in “more transparency”. He said the sharing of experiences by the victims had proved the utility of the study.

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