Report exposes increase in atrocities against Dalits; former CJI KG Balakrishnan calls for better law enforcement -Divya Trivedi

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published Published on Sep 15, 2020   modified Modified on Sep 16, 2020

Crimes against Dalits continued to rise despite a nationwide lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic. The National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) has documented more than 100 cases of atrocities from April to June that include lynchings, untouchability practices, mass atrocities and violence against Dalit women.

In Maharashtra, rumours were spread about a Dalit man and his family being COVID positive. They were attacked and asked to leave the village. In Haryana, the Gujjar community attacked a Dalit family for not switching off the lights at 9 p.m. on April 5, as suggested by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In Andhra Pradesh, Dr K. Sudhakar, an anaesthetist, was brutally dragged through the streets with his hands tied behind his back because he reported difficulties regarding PPE Kits. A video of the incident went viral. Sudhakar was later suspended and declared to be of unsound mind. In Rajasthan, a Dalit youth was beaten up by members of the Jat community for opening his essential items shop during the lockdown and keeping a photograph of B.R. Ambedkar.

While the term social distancing further reinforced the caste exclusion and atrocities against Dalits during the pandemic, dominant castes began to openly exhibit their animosity and anti-social attitudes in the absence of the law and order machinery which was entirely focussed on handling the COVID-19 situation.

A dispute over a loan in a village in Tamil Nadu led to the murder of two people from the Dhobi caste by a group from the Thevar community. Babu Pawar and his two sons from the denotified Pardhi community, were brutally killed by the dominant Marathas over a land dispute. A 16-year-old boy in Uttar Pradesh, was shot dead inside his home for going to a temple. A 20-year-old Dalit college student was killed by Maratha men for being in a relationship with a woman from their community. Dalit women became especially vulnerable to sexual violence and other crimes during this time.

In Vijaywada, a nine-month pregnant Dalit woman who had to descend 250 steps from her hilltop home to get daily essentials was sent back empty-handed for being a Dalit. A domestic worker in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, was repeatedly beaten up for raising her voice against the denial of ration. Several instances of gang rape were reported from across Uttar Pradesh. In one gruesome case, a Dalit woman was kept hostage by five influential people of a village for 8 hours on her wedding day and gang- raped several times. In an instance of mass violence at Jaunpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh, over a dozen hutments were set ablaze and 14 houses damaged.

“When the entire world is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, even during this crucial period, the attitude of the dominant caste continued to discriminate against Dalits on various occasions,” said Vimal Thorat, Convener for National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR).

The NCDHR, along with NDMJ, analysed data from the past 10 years and released a status report on the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 (SC/ST Act) and Rules 1995.

Please click here to read more., 15 September, 2020,

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