Kerala: Atrocities against Dalits on the rise

102 cases in 2016 compared to 83 in 2015.

ALAPPUZHA: The scheduled castes and tribes are getting a raw deal in the state and the crimes against them are increasing. Their welfare is being taken care of by the state-level vigilance monitoring committee headed by the chief minister. The ST development department has been carrying out legal awareness classes to make them respond to the atrocities against them. “As a result, the number of cases has gone up,” said a former official with the department.

According to the Kerala police statistics, the number of cases registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act increased to 102 last year from 83 in 2015 while it was 53 in 2008. Though more cases are being registered, the conviction rate is low at 1.7 per cent. According to dalit activists, the majority of the cases were settled out of court due to shoddy prosecution. “In many cases, key witnesses turned hostile. Setting up of special courts to try cases involving SCs/STs could ensure better implementation of the Act,” they said.

Ms P.V. Mini, research officer, Kerala Institute for Research, Training and Development Studies (KIRTADS), said the cases against the dalits had not received serious attention and there was no proper follow-up. “The crimes against SC/ST communities still continue,” she said. The High Court had ruled on March 12, 2013 against the misuse of SC/ST atrocities prevention Act.

No person could be convicted for atrocities against members of scheduled castes or tribes unless it was proved that the offence was committed with racial prejudice, it said. A division bench comprising justices T.R. Ramachandran Nair and A.V. Ramakrishna Pillai issued the order while considering appeals filed by two persons convicted for raping a 12-year-old girl belonging to the scheduled tribes category in January 2002.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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