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

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Caste Crimes and the Law in Uttar Pradesh

Over the years, caste crimes in Uttar Pradesh have risen to disturbingly high levels. In order to make arrangements for the protection of lower-caste groups from caste oppression, understanding the linkages between sociopolitical conditions and the implementation of laws in the state is a must. Evidence suggests that the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has not been implemented in its letter and spirit because of sociopolitical compulsions of political parties and constant reviews of the scope of the act.

This article is based on a research study conducted under the international non-governmental organisation Partnership Programme Agreement of the Department for International Development, United Kingdom. The author would like to thank Sukhadeo Thorat, Sirivella Prasad and Anand Kumar Bolimera for research inputs, and Ram Kumar, Ram Dular and other officials and members from different organisations in the sample state for their valuable support in fieldwork.

In India, besides constitutional provisions, specific legislations such as the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) (PoA) Act, 1989, and the PoA Amendment Act, 2015 enunciate strategies to counter the violations of human rights based on caste identity. However, oppressive behaviours against lower-caste groups are on the rise in all parts of the country. Traditional caste norms continue to govern the thoughts and behaviours of some people, determine social relations between caste groups, and often create social conditions, wherein lower-caste groups continue to be at the receiving end of discrimination, oppression and violent behaviours.

What makes Uttar Pradesh (UP) distinct with regard to caste crimes? According to data provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the state has the highest number of registered caste crimes amongst Indian states (NCRB 2002–15). It substantially contributes to the national figure. At the same time, UP has the highest conviction rate, noticeably higher than almost all major states in the country (NCRB 2002–15). Given the complex sociopolitical dynamics in the state, the increase in caste crimes raises many questions about the role of the state machinery.

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