Marathas, Dal­its fight over atroc­i­ties act, but cases filed on de­cline CASES REG­IS­TERED UN­DER THE ACT

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Manasi Phadke manasi.phadke@hin­dus­tan­times.com HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

The Maratha com­mu­nity and the state’s Dal­its stand di­vided over the Atroc­i­ties Act, but of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics tell a story of how fewer cases are be­ing reg­is­tered un­der the 25-yearold leg­is­la­tion that was in­tro­duced to re­dress caste-re­lated ex­ploita­tion.

Na­tional Crime Records Bu­reau (NCRB) data show the num­ber of cases reg­is­tered un­der the Sched­uled Castes and Sched­uled Tribes (Pre­ven­tion of Atroc­i­ties) Act in Ma­ha­rash­tra has plum­meted to 2,206 cases in 2014 from 4,756 recorded in 2010.

Sheer num­bers in­di­cate a sim­ple drop in in­ci­dents, but Dalit ac­tivists see them with a sub­script. They say the de­cline is be­cause a ma­jor­ity of cases are go­ing un­recorded, given the mus­cle power of the ac­cused, their pull in the ad­min­is­tra­tive 4,756 4,529 1,393 2,064 2,206

sys­tem and fear of so­cial boy­cott.

“In a hun­dred in­ci­dents of atroc­i­ties, barely five or six get reg­is­tered as cases,” said ad­vo­cate Ke­val Uke, the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Na­tional Dalit Move­ment for Jus­tice. The act is in the news as its re­view and amend­ment is one of the main de­mands made by the Maratha com­mu­nity in its on­go­ing silent protest marches across the state.

The gov­ern­ment has cleared the ap­point­ment of a Ra­jkot-based lawyer, who had de­fended the ac­cused in the Gul­berg So­ci­ety mas­sacre of the 2002 Gu­jarat ri­ots, as part-time mem­ber to the Law Com­mis­sion of In­dia. Ab­hay Bhard­waj be­came the sec­ond con­tro­ver­sial ap­point­ment af­ter Satya Pal Jain, a for­mer BJP par­lia­men­tar­ian from Chandi­garh who was party leader LK Ad­vani’s coun­sel in the 1992 Babri Masjid de­mo­li­tion case, was in­ducted in June.

Like Bhard­waj, Jain too is a part­time mem­ber and their ap­point­ments have drawn crit­i­cism. The Congress said the se­lec­tions are part of a dis­ap­point­ing pat­tern. Party leader and for­mer law min­is­ter Kapil Sibal ac­cused the BJP-led gov­ern­ment of “fill­ing up im­por­tant pub­lic po­si­tions with peo­ple of its own ide­ol­ogy”.

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