ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Atrocities on Dalits

The question of atrocities on dalits – who constitute around a sixth of the nation’s population – and the consequent denial of justice in a majority of cases is an unfortunate reality of our country. The hiatus which exists between constitutional pronouncements to “abolish u ntouchability in all its forms” and the a ctual practice on the ground is only too well documented. There are short periods when dalit issues get highlighted but are soon relegated to the backpages. Today the nation’s focus is, once again, on this issue, whether in Mirchpur, Haryana (where a dalit settlement was attacked by the dominant castes, killing two), Banthal, Gujarat (where dalits were expelled en masse from the village), Jait (Madhya Pradesh chief minister’s village where dalits were d enied temple entry), Madurai (where government itself usurped dalit land) or Bathani Tola and Laxmanpur Bathe in B ihar (which had witnessed dalit massacres more than a decade ago). This could be an opportune time to deliberate on some of the important dimensions of the whole problem and strategise a ccordingly.

The initial step should be a critical review of the role of the state in preventing attacks on dalits and eradicating discrimination. How has the two decade old Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 fared on the ground? How can the alliance between the police, administration and (un) civil society, which makes legal interventions infructuous, be broken?

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