As crimes against Dalits rise, UP or Haryana tops the chart ?

ZEE NEWS,  September 28, 2012,

Does Haryana top the list of states in atrocities against Scheduled Castes as asserted by PL Punia? The chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes’ statement came in the wake of Hisar Dalit gangrape case.

“Anti-Dalit atrocities have been taking place on a large-scale in Haryana. While the state is small, in the proportion of the crimes, that is, crimes per lakh of population, Haryana tops the list,” Punia was quoted as saying in an interview to a leading business daily.

But, government data sourced from the latest National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) Report 2011 by the Zee Research Group shows that Haryana doesn’t even figure in the top three states that have registered highest crimes against Dalits in 2011 under two crime categories: Indian Penal Code and Special Local Laws, and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The latter is a special law and applies to cases where atrocity has been committed against a Dalit by an upper caste for reasons primarily of caste difference.

Another worrying trend apparent from the NCRB data is growing cases of rape of women belonging to SCs. From 1,349 cases in 2010, rape incidences of Dalit women have jumped to 1,557 in 2011 thereby registering an increase of 15.4 percent. Here again, Uttar Pradesh has reported highest 397 incidences of rape thereby accounting for 25.5 percent of the total cases in the country. Madhya Pradesh closely follows Uttar Pradesh with 327 cases i.e. 21 percent of the total cases in the country. In the first category, the dubious distinction has been earned by Uttar Pradesh – also the state with highest number of Scheduled Caste population. With 7,702 cases out of the total 33,719, the state alone accounted for 22.8 percent of crime against SCs under the Indian Penal Code and Special Local Laws. Uttar Pradesh is being followed by Rajasthan with 5,182 cases, i.e. 15.4 percent. Andhra Pradesh with 4,016 cases (11.9 percent) and Bihar with 3,623 cases (10.7 percent) trail behind Rajasthan in that order. Haryana is only 1.2 percent, way below these states.

NCRB data also points that crimes under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, is rising across the country. A total of 11,342 cases were reported under this Act during 2011 as compared to 10,513 in 2010 – a sharp increase of 7.9 percent over the previous year. Among states, Bihar has reported highest 3,024 cases accounting for 26.7 percent of the total cases reported in the country leaving behind Uttar Pradesh (17.6 percent) and Andhra Pradesh (12.7 percent) which otherwise lead in overall crimes against Dalits.

The above data clearly contradicts Punia’s statement as Haryana is way behind Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh when it comes to atrocities against SCs. However, the recent spurt in crimes targeting the marginalised and lower castes in Haryana including through khap justice suggests that roots of caste-based discrimination remain firmly entrenched in Indian society.

The women especially minor girls become easy prey for offenders who more than often get support from self-proclaimed feudalistic social orders. The malaise can be uprooted with stringent implementation of laws and creating social awareness rather than generalised statements to score brownie points.

And now, rape as political witch-hunt. The stories of 7 women

Tripura is the CPM’s last bastion. But its crude attempts to smother rivals is leaving the party red-faced, says Ratnadip Choudhury

ON 20 MARCH, two tribal girls in their early 20s were allegedly tortured and gang-raped by a group of tribal men in Takka Tulsi, a remote hamlet in southern Tripura. The incident hardly found a mention in the national media. Even in the Northeast, the media failed to read between the lines of what this incident tells about the tiny state that boasts of a high literacy rate, rural development and political consciousness. But the pain and trauma of the victims can be felt and heard in almost every tribal belt in Tripura, the last bastion of the Left Front in India.

Indeed, women have been at the receiving end of the Left Front’s 19-year rule in the state. They have been tortured, gangraped and even murdered at will. Kangaroo courts have been used to brand tribal women as witches, and their moral character questioned, all for ulterior political designs.

According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), Tripura had India’s worst crime rate against women: 46.5 per lakh population in 2010. Between April 2010 and March 2011, the Tripura Commission for Women (TCW) received 913 cases of crime against women, out of which 62 were against tribals.

So, why this spurt in rapes against tribal women in Tripura? Historically, the Left Front had reigned supreme in the tribal areas but its support base has started eroding. Every day, tribals are deserting the CPM and joining regional parties because they believe that CPM leaders share benefits of government schemes only with their relatives and cadres. Rattled by the desertion and its debacle in West Bengal, the CPM cadres are trying every trick in the trade to retain power in next year’s Assembly polls. But for now, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and the TCW have some explaining to do about these shocking crime figures.

“The high rate of crime against women in Tripura is a concern,” says CPM state secretary Bijan Dhar, adding, “I agree that since we have been in power for 19 years, a section of our people got inclined towards power and at times ideology takes a back seat.”

The magnitude of the political pressure is so intense that the watchdog TCW is almost parroting the state government’s tune. “Politics on a sensitive issue like rape is not desirable. We are alarmed by the increase in rape cases and we have been taking action but it is not like that the government is not sensitive,” says TCW chairperson Dr Tapati Chakraborty.

But the Congress is in no mood to desist from politicking on the issue. “It is the tribal vote bank that has kept the Left in power for so long; they have done nothing for them,” says Leader of the Opposition and Congress MLA Ratan Lal Nath. “The CPM cadres have done heinous crimes against women and got away with it, but we will fight against this menace.”

TEHELKA travelled to some of the remotest villages to understand why the tribal women are at peril. The driver who took us around, gave us a primer. “Tripura has adequate power and good roads, even in remote areas. It has been the best state in the implementation of MGNREGA,” he says. “But the truth is that one can enjoy the fruits of development only if he/she supports the ruling party. Political rivals are boycotted economically and socially, mentally harassed and assaulted by CPM cadres.”

There are numerous cases of violence against tribals that paint a shoddy picture of the state of affairs in Tripura, where the Left Front won 19 of the 20 seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes in the 60-member Assembly in 2008. However, it’s not just the tribals who are bearing the brunt. The TCW records between April 2010 and March 2011 show that 28.37 percent of the crimes were against SCs, 13.14 percent against Muslims and 20.37 percent against OBCs. These numbers are enough for the Left Front to realise that its final bastion is in big trouble.

Ratnadip Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent with Tehelka

1 AND 2 ‘We were warned of dire consequences if we mingled with Congress members’ Pinky Tripura, 22 & Rakhimala Tripura, 22 Takka Tulsi, South Tripura District
3..CPM cadres threatened her, asked her to withdraw her nomination’ Nilima Debbarma, 27 Shikaribari, Khowai District
4…They paraded me naked from door to door’ Ratna Debbarma, 31 Jayanti Bazar, Dhalai District
5..They forced me to have sex with my sister-in-law’ Kamalasri Tripura, 48 & Dharmasri Tripura, 60 Siki Chandra Para, South Tripura District
6…Look what the CPM is doing to its own people’ Mangalaxmi Debbarma, 50 Maharam Sardar Para, West Tripura District
7…‘The CPM is trying to create a fear factor among the tribals’ Jyotila Rupini, 5 Bordowal, West Tripura District

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