HUNDREDS of activists belonging to Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch demonstrated in front of parliament on March 21, demanding revival of SC Sub Plan in its true letter and spirit and against violence on dalits in the country. It is shocking to note that a crime is committed against dalits in every 15 minutes in India. And six dalit women are raped every day, according to the official statistics. According to data available from various sources, there is 66 per cent hike in atrocities in the past ten years, from 2007-2017.
A memorandum was submitted to the union minister for social justice and empowerment, Thaawarchand Gehlot on March 22 urging the government to file a review petition in order to nullify the recent Supreme Court order diluting the provisions of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act. Representatives of the DSMM comprising its general secretary Ramchandra Dome, vice president and MP, Somaprasad and secretary V Srinivasa Rao met the minister and demanded that the government of India must immediately act on this issue.
Untouchability still continues to exist, albeit in various new forms in the country. The state and central governments are turning a deaf ear and behaving as if caste discrimination doesn’t even exist in the country. To create awareness amongst people there is an immediate necessity to establish a “National Mission against Caste Discrimination”. There needs to be a nation-wide campaign across the country through this mission. In the context of increasing ‘Honour Killings’, the memorandum underlined that a new law should be brought to protect and ensure security to those opting for inter-caste marriages.
The demonstration started from Jantar Mantar and culminated at Parliament Street where a public meeting was held. Nathu Prasad, vice president of DSMM presided over the protest meeting.
The speakers at the rally said that situation has worsened, with a further spike in anti-dalit violence, over the past four years since the BJP came to power at the centre. It is also noted that the communal divide is also taking place with the imposition of ideology of Hindutva by ruling BJP at the centre and states.
Ramchandra Dome, general secretary of DSMM while addressing rally said that in 2006 the total number of crimes against dalits was 27,070, which became 33,719 in 2011. While in the period 2008 to 2012, the figures were mostly static but in the last four years with the advent of BJP in the centre, nearly 33,659 average numbers of cases of crime against dalits were registered, which is very alarming. Situation in West Bengal has worsened after the TMC came to power. Rapes, violence against dalits and adivasis are increasing in the state and government is seen protecting criminals openly. He called upon the DSMM activists to bring more and more people under the banner of DSMM to counter such attacks which have become news of the day. He also criticised Modi government for not fulfilling its promise to provide jobs to dalit youth.
Brinda Karat, Polit Bureau member of CPI(M) greeted the rally. She said dalits and adivasis are the worst sufferers of the anti-people policies of the Modi led BJP government. The laws and welfare schemes meant for safeguarding the interests of the marginalised sections are being diluted by the government. She exhorted the protestors to work together with all the progressive and democratic minded people to fight the twin dangers of social oppression and economic exploitation.
Subhashini Ali, vice president of DSMM lambasted Modi government for diluting the SC Sub Plan. She demanded that revival of SC sub plan with increased allocation is necessary for the welfare and development of dalits. She further added that atrocities against dalits in Uttar Pradesh are in the lead, which is accounting 17 per cent of the crimes against the 20 per cent of India’s dalit population that it houses. In Rajasthan, more than half of the total crimes in the state have a dalit victim. Bihar too has abysmal record, where two out of every five crimes committed are targeted towards dalits.
The main demands of the demonstration are as follows:
1. Stop repression, violence and discrimination against dalits.
2. Provide employment to the dalit youth and extend reservation to private enterprises.
3. Lift ban in government jobs at all levels.
4. Provide education to all dalit children and increase scholarships for needy students.
5. Provide minimum 2 acres of land to each and every dalit family.
6. Ensure adequate health care for targeted families.
7. Take steps to implement the Food security and housing for each Dalit family.
8. Arrest the culprits of Bhima Koregaon and release the innocent dalit activists immediately.
9. Release Chandershekhar Azad, Sonu and Shiv Kumar of Bhim Army without any pre-condition.