Rajasthan has emerged as the state with the highest incidence of registered atrocities against Dalits across the country.
In 2010, the state recorded 51.4 cases of atrocities against Dalits per lakh population under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act. It had registered a similar number of cases in 2009 too.
The latest data from the ministry of social justice and empowerment show that five states – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh – account for around 70% of registered atrocities against Dalits in India. SCs account for anywhere between 15% and 22% of the total population in these states.
“As stated, these are registered cases – whereas the actual number of atrocities could be more. Though hundreds of cases still go unnoticed and unreported, Dalits now come out and complain thanks to the efforts of NGOs in states like Andhra Pradesh,” Chinna Rao, associate professor, Centre for the Study of Discrimination and Exclusion, JNU, said.Although the number of atrocities against Dalits declined in most of the states from 33,426 in 2009 to 32,569 in 2010, Kerala, Haryana and West Bengal recorded a rise. Himachal and Punjab also saw a marginal increase in 2010 over 2009.
Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh topped in atrocities against the tribal population as well. Of the 5,880 cases registered, 60% (3,505 cases) were from these states.
Cases of atrocities against Dalits are characterised by their high rate of pendency and low rate of conviction, a tendency officials term as “very worrisome”. As per the National Crime Records Bureau, the pendency of SC-related cases in courts during 2008-10 was 80.6%. In eight states, the percentage is above the national average – 90% in Gujarat and 88.2% in West Bengal.
At the same time, the conviction rate in SC-related cases during 2008-10 was only 32.3%, with Karnataka registering as low as 3.3%, Gujarat 6.4%, Maharashtra 6.6%, and West Bengal 6.7%.
Though the Act specifies special courts at the district level to deal with such cases on a war footing, not many states have complied with the stipulation. “Andhra and MP have set up exclusive courts in every district, but the ratio is much less in other states,” an official said.