Rising Crime Against Dalits And The Dilution Of The SC/ ST Act
0 comments | by Sheshu Babu
The recent verdict relating to atrocities on SC/ STs and dalits has sparked much debate and controversy. Scores of dalits and their supporters called for ‘ Bharat bandh’ to express their dismay and disappointment over the Court’s judgment. Though the Court has not reviewed its earlier stand, it should have considered facts before delivering its ruling on such sensitive and crucial matters.
Over the decade to 2016, the crimes against dalits rose by eight times (746%) : there were 2.4 crimes per 100,000 dalits in 2006 rising to 20.3 crimes per 100,000 dalits according to a report in Indiaspend analysis of 2016 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) latest available data.(Over A Decade, Crime Rate Against Dalits Rose By 746%, published April4, 2018, indiaspend.com). As the report further states, the rate if crime on Adivasis or Scheduled Tribes rose by over 12 times (1,160%) from 0.5 in 2006 to 6.3 in 2016. These figures show that atrocities have increased over the years.
Since 1980s, after the formation of BJP, the attacks on lower castes, marginalised section and Muslims increased drastically though communal tensions were prevalent even before 80s. The hindutva forces gradually gained control politically in the 90s and established themselves as potential political alternative to Congress. Their gain also indicates decline of Left and secular forces as they were unable to ‘visualize ‘ the growing influence of right wingers. Another major cause is rising indoctrination in schools and colleges. Special schools like the ‘ veda Pathasalas’ sprung up. In some Universities, hindu mythology departments, Astrology and Palmistry Departments were established which catered mainly to persons belonging to brahmins or supporters of brahminism. This increased caste disparity and hostility towards dalits, adivasis, muslins and minorities. Stress on secular education weakened. Fundamentalism in all religions rose with renewed hostility.
Politics and religion
The use of religion to gain political power started since Independence and steadily grew till the nineties. But it took a great leap with Babri Masjid demolition. Not only religion, but also caste divisions came to the fore with the incident. SC/ ST and backward castes opposed brahminical tendencies and sided with Muslims. Caste differences grew and therefore, the rise of crimes against dalits increased.
Failure to understand the logic behind policy of reservations and pent-up hostile feelings also contributed in rise of crimes. Upper castes felt increasing insecurity as dalits and weaker sections began to assert themselves with the benefit of reservations. Upper caste youth felt jealous and insecure as more and more lower caste persons began to secure good jobs on par with forward castes. The present rulers inciting anti- reservation feelings has also contributed to rise in attacks on dalits.
The SC ruling will have still adverse affect on lower castes. The crime rate may rise and those persons involved may go unpunished. As the rate of conviction is low, it may further decline as perpetrators may live with impunity. The judgment may also fuel hate and dalits may face more threats than ever before. Thus, the verdict should be reviewed with the latest data. Instead of diluting law, the stress should be on sincere implementation and speedy delivery of justice. Many cases on ST/SC/ adivasis are pending in courts. There are many waiting for release from illegal detentions. Overwhelming people who are imprisoned are being punished for no fault of theirs. Keeping in view the concrete situations, the verdict should be reviewed and fact checked so as to protect dalits and marginalised communities from further humiliation from upper castes.
Rising crimes can be reduced only if caste structure is annihilated. The present law ( the law, though positive), might have some aspects that need correction. However, diluting it may lead to further limiting the scope of convictions. The crimes may rise more than the present rate.
Sheshu Babu is a writer from anywhere and everywhere