More Stringent Law against Atrocities Demanded
AGARTALA, the capital of Tripura, witnessed a massive rally on December 3, 2013, organised by Tripura Tapashili Jati Samanway Samiti, as the organisation met the chief minister of the state to hand him over mass signatures for forward transmission to the prime minister. The organisation has been demanding more stringent legislation to prevent atrocities against dalits. The organisation recently ran a mass signature campaign throughout the state on the demand of strict and exemplary punishment for perpetrators of atrocities on dalits and on four more demands. The latter include financial aid for all the people affected by such violence, allocation of more funds for the scheduled castes sub-plan in Tripura, filling up of all vacant posts reserved for the SCs in the central and different state governments, and allotment of land to all the landless families. More than three lakh signatures were collected from people of all walks of life all over the state. Prior to the mass meeting, leaders of Tripura Tapashili Jati Samanway Samiti met the state’s chief minister, Manik Sarkar, to hand over the lot of signatures and a memorandum of demands to be forwarded to the prime minister. The memorandum demanded that necessary amendments to the act to prevent atrocities against dalits should be introduced in the winter session of the parliament itself. Chief minister Manik Sarkar agreed to the demands and forwarded the memorandum along with the signatures on the very next day, with a letter addressed to the prime minister, justifying and supporting the demands. On the day, an impressive procession of dalit masses walked through the streets of Agartala before culminating in a mass meeting near Paradise Chowmohani. The meeting was presided over by Anil Sarkar, vice chairman of the state planning board and president of Tripura Tapashili Jati Samanway Samiti. Secretary of the organisation Sudhan Das (MLA), secretary of Tripura Matsyajibi Union (Fishermen Union) Sudhir Das (MLA), and leaders of the organisation viz Priyatosh Das, Sunirmal Rishidas and Ramlal Dhanuk addressed the meeting. In his presidential speech, Anil Sarkar stressed on the need of more movements by forging larger unity against atrocities on dalits. He said the Left forces have to intensify their struggle against caste oppression while waging a battle against class exploitation. In India, he said, a broader unity against social oppression is a prerequisite for unity of the working class. Sudhan Das said we have collected 3,03,000 signatures from all over the state in support of the five demands. Even among these the demand to make the legislation stringer against act of atrocities on dalit masses tops the list. He said using the loopholes in the present law perpetrators of atrocities against dalits go scot-free. That is why we are demanding that the law must be made stricter. It is shameful that even after 66 years of independence we see incidents in which a dalit youth is murdered for hoisting the national flag. He said the policies of the Congress led government at the centre are hurting the poor people of all sections. Hence the dalit masses too must intensify their struggle against the policies of the Congress. Describing the welfare schemes initiated by the Left Front government in Tripura, he said unless such an alternative government is formed at the centre, our problems would not be solved. Sudhir Das said a recent study had revealed the pitiable condition of dalit people in the states of northern India. Quoting from the reports he said, health workers do not treat dalits in 45 percent of the villages, children of dalit families are not allowed to eat mid-day meal with upper caste students in 42 percent of the villages, at least 34 percent of cases of atrocities against dalits are not even registered and justice is denied by the administration, 39 percent of the government post offices do not distribute mail and letters to and from dalits. We must contact as many allies as possible to fight against these discriminations. According to these and other speakers, the Congress or the BJP would never work sincerely for dalit and other poor masses. The need of the hour is to intensify struggles on the said five demands and strive for a government, like the one existing in Tripura, at the centre as well.