VIJAYAWADA: Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has asked officials to expedite their inquiry into all pending cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
He gave the direction during a meeting of the high-power SC, ST vigilance and monitoring committee at the Secretariat on Thursday.
He said that such a meeting was not held since 2013, as the previous TD government laid no focus on law enforcement, especially those of SC and ST cases. He said that there should be a regular review of SC and ST law enforcement, both at the state and district levels.
The Chief Minister said that for the first time in the history of the state, the police department has taken tough decisions regarding the SC, ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act and took stringent action against those police officers who were found guilty, proving that no one is above the law. He said that the State government shall continue to provide financial assistance to victims of harassment without any delay. He directed the officials to provide jobs to families of rape and murder victims pertaining to SCs and STs. He suggested providing land for the victims and in case of unavailability, he told the officials to acquire and distribute it to the victims.
He instructed the in-charge Ministers to review implementation of the Prevention of SC and ST Atrocities Act in the districts once in three months. He told the officials to prepare an SOP on law enforcement and effective implementation of the Act. The Chief Minister also directed the investigation wing of SC, ST Act cases in CID to review the progress on a regular basis. He asked the officials to focus on setting up special courts, especially appointing lawyers, as well as providing assistance to victims.
The Chief Minister said, “Police need to be closer to the downtrodden communities and provide assurance on the law. We have already made it mandatory for collectors to visit village secretariats once a week. From now onwards, SPs along with collectors should visit SC and ST colonies once a week. At the very first collectors’ conference after the formation of the government, it was told that the State shall stand by the oppressed sections and women.”
Dr G Sunil Kumar, Director, Scheduled Castes National Commission, said the Andhra Pradesh government was the only one in the country to have given Rs 10 lakh compensation to victims in various cases.
Committee members lauded the government's handling of incidents in Rajahmundry, Prakasam and Srikakulam districts with the implementation of the Act.
Meanwhile, the officials informed that the number of cases had decreased by 11 per cent in 2020, which is the lowest in the last six years. There was almost 36 per cent reduction in SC and ST murder cases in 2020, 17 per cent in rape cases, five per cent in trauma cases, 46 per cent in incidents of arson, 11 per cent in other IPC cases and 18 per cent reduction in cases under the SC, ST Act. In terms of time taken for investigation, in 2017 an investigation took nearly 264 days on an average while it was now being accomplished in 50 days.
The Chief Minister later released a booklet prepared by the police department titled 'Good conduct towards SCs, STs and women.'
The meeting was attended by Ministers Mekatoti Sucharitha, Pinipe Viswaroop, Adimulapu Suresh, Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das, DGP Gautam Sawang and other senior officials.