UP failed to protect Dalits: Govt
Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 05, 2011
Minister for social justice and empowerment Mukul Wasnik has shot off
a letter to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati, listing the state's
institutional failures in preventing atrocities against the Dalits.
With less than a year to go for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections,
the letter may mark t
he beginning of a political confrontation between the BSP and Congress
over the Dalit vote in UP, which is 21 % of the state's population.
This vote — which was once part of the Congress' rainbow coalition of
upper castes, Dalits and Muslims in the state — has over the last two
decades been gradually captured by Mayawati's BSP.
Wasnik's letter says that the state has not yet identified
atrocity-prone areas, which Section 21 (VII) of the Prevention of
Atrocities (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Act, 1989, requires
it to do.
A ministry official said the state had last identified these areas in
1986, three years before the Act itself came into existence. In other
words, UP has not identified these areas since the Act came into
force, though it has declared 20 districts as "sensitive".
Wasnik has also pointed out to the absence of a state-level
vigilance-and-monitoring committee in the state, as required by Rules
16 and 17 of the PoA Rules, 1995. This committee, under the
chairpersonship of the chief minister, is required to meet twice a
year. In UP, however, it is non-existent.
The letter comes after a meeting of officials of the central ministry
with its UP state counterpart in April, where Wasnik is believed to
have flagged these concerns vis-à-vis the implementation of the PoA
Act in the state.
Of the 33426 cases of atrocities against Dalits registered across
India in 2009, UP accounts for 22.3 % (or 7461). However, UP officials
are believed to have said that the high number of cases registered was
primarily because of the huge population of the state.
The state officials also pointed out that the state has a higher
conviction level than the national average. The all-India average
conviction rate in such cases between 2007-09 was a mere 31 %, while
it was 54 % in UP.
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