It’s happening in the backyards of chief ministers, past and present, besides those of several top state leaders.
If that were not enough, the conviction rates are dismal.
The atrocities against Dalits are rising in native districts of Chief Minister (CM) Ashok Chavan and Union Agriculture Minister and former CM Sharad Pawar.
Till May 2009, Chavan’s Nanded and Pawar’s Pune (rural) topped the list with 30 cases of atrocity against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
In the same period last year, Nanded did not have a single case. It has the highest number of villages (36) prone to violation by upper castes.
State’s first Dalit CM and Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s Solapur (26 cases) is equally violent.
Next door, Padmasinh Patil’s Osmanabad has 24 cases,
former DCM and home minister Gopinath Munde’s Beed and Ahmednagar (with 22 cases each) also paint a grim picture.
Ahmednagar boasts of influential Maratha Congressmen like Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil and his son, Education Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil.
Barring Osmanabad and Ahmednagar, all other erring districts are in backward Marathwada where 150 cases were registered till May 2009.
The region has a large number of SCs who feel emancipated due to their belief in Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s teachings.
Statistics reveal that most atrocity cases involve molestation, rape and murder.
Quoting figures for 1999-2004, President of Ambedkar Centre for Justice & Peace, NK Sonare, said that of 4,249 cases in the state, less than 5 per cent of accused had been convicted.
“It gives culprits the message that they can rape and kill Dalits, and still get away with such heinous crimes. The situation may explode into a caste war anytime,” Sonare said.
As senior leaders were unavailable for comment Minister of State for Home Nitin Raut told Hindustan Times, “We have prepared a 15-point plan to create awareness and fix responsibility. We may even levy fines on an entire village where atrocities are committed frequently.”