Crime against Dalits in Rajasthan increased in the past one year, say rights activists.
The state witnessed protests by human rights groups in the past one week following the murder of a 16-year-old Dalit girl, Delta Meghwal, at a private teachers’ training college in Bikaner. Meghwal was found dead in a water tank outside the college hostel on March 29.
On March 5, a video showing three Dalit teenagers being stripped and beaten up in a village in Chittorgarh, went viral. The youngsters, aged between 15 and 18, were held by a mob for allegedly stealing a motorcycle and tied to a tree before being stripped and paraded in the village.
Rights activists say that atrocities against Dalits have gone up in the past one year due to apathy of the police and administration.
“Even after 68 years of independence, Dalits do not feel safe in the country,” says rights activist Gopal Keshawat.
In Chittorgarh, the three minors were labeled as petty thieves just because they belonged to Kanjar community, he says. In September 2015, five Dalits in Nagaur’s Dangawas village, were mowed down by a tractor and 16 other injured over a land dispute with the dominant Jat community.
In another incident in Jodhpur’s Osian village, a 7-year-old student Dinesh Meghwal was allegedly beaten up by his headmaster and schoolmates for “touching” a plate food of a higher caste student.
“Both the incidents got wide media coverage following protests by rights groups. But everything cooled down after a few weeks. This has become a pattern in Rajasthan,” says Taran Gupta, another activist.
A recent report by Centre for Dalit Rights (CDR), a Jaipur-based civil society organization, said that there are 55 pending cases of murder, attempt to murder, rape, attempt to rape, vandalism of property and forceful possession of land committed against Dalits in the past seven months.
The CDR submitted the report to the Rajasthan Assembly scheduled caste welfare committee asking it to look into the pending cases. “Only a few cases of violence against Dalits get registered with the police. We have compiled a list of pending cases from August, 2015 to February, 2016 and submitted it to the president of SC welfare committee Chandrakanta Meghwal, asking her to initiate action on people guilty of the crime,” says PL Mimroth of CDR.
The recent report of the National Crime Records Bureau shows that Rajasthan tops the list of crime against people of scheduled caste. Out of 47,064 incidences of violence against Dalits registered in the country, Rajasthan accounts for 8,028 for them.
“Until now, police personnel are trained by an outdated manual that characterizes some Dalit communities as habitual criminals, petty thieves and thugs. The attitude of police is the most troublesome aspect,” adds Keshawat.