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PM to states: protect weaker sections

Manmohan ticks off governments for not doing enough to eliminate atrocities against them, reports Aloke Tikku.

india Updated: Dec 10, 2006 00:07 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday ticked off state governments for not doing enough to eliminate atrocities against weaker sections of the society and told them to demonstrate the political will to put an end to atrocities and enforce the law.

Singh also called for more effective use of special laws like Prevention of Atrocities Act and asked states to constitute special cells, preferably manned by senior officers from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes community, to monitor and enforce the special laws.

But the prime minister made it clear that legislations alone would not be sufficient to end the atrocities that he called a "matter of national shame in a civilised society".

"What is needed is the political will to eliminate atrocities; the will to enforce the law; the will to ensure easy access to the police and the justice system to vulnerable sections; the will to provide relief and succour to all those who are affected by atrocities," Singh told the Inter-State Council meeting convened at his instance to discuss a deep malaise involving atrocities committed on "the most underprivileged segments".

Singh's strong comments come in the backdrop of recent incidents provoking Dalit violence in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh and reports of atrocities against them. The prime minister referred to the "disturbing incidents" and reports of atrocities in some places, noting that there seemed to be some areas that are "more atrocity prone".

"There are also shocking reports at times of apathy and a lack of sensitivity in handling the aftermath of such incidents," he said.

Singh did not name any state in the course of his address, which also stressed on a development paradigm that guarantees freedom of an open society and inclusive democracy to the hitherto suppressed sections. He did, however, note that a "disconcerting feature" of atrocity figures was that some states accounted for a majority of the incidents.

Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh accounted for one-third of crimes against SCs last year; Rajasthan came next with 14.5 per cent of the total figure and Andhra Pradesh ranked fourth on this list with 12 per cent. Between them, the four states account for 60 per cent of crimes against SCs registered by the police. Maharashtra – that recently was in the limelight for the wrong reasons – registered 865 cases in 2005, just 3.3 per cent.

Singh called "a serious introspection and a comprehensive review" of existing approaches, strategies and measures to able to effectively control such incidents and generate a greater sense of security and hope.

Email Aloke Tikku: atikku@hindustantimes.com