Showing deep concern over separate crematoria for Dalits in Haryana villages, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) member Ishwar Singh has demanded that this practice be made a criminal offence.
Ishwar Singh, who was here on Friday to convene a meeting with the district officials, said that Haryana had the dubious distinction of being a state committing a large number of violations of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
"Of the total crimes registered in Haryana, 9.52% cases relate to Dalit atrocities. It is higher than the national average of 7%. This data reflects a biased mindset, leading to curtailment of the basic human rights of Dalits. It is a matter of worry that such violations are routine and the state must take serious note of it," said Singh, a former member of Rajya Sabha from Haryana.
He said that he had got several complaints from Haryana where it was alleged that members of the Dalit community were not being allowed to cremate bodies at places where the last rites of upper caste people are performed.
"I am personally aware that even the funeral processions of Dalits are not allowed to cross through the streets dominated by upper castes. I strongly believe that the Centre should pass a resolution to ensure that bodies are not discriminated on the grounds of caste and the last rights must be performed at the same place," he told reporters.
Singh, who is incharge of five states on violations of the SC Act, said that despite tall official claims, inhuman practices like manual scavenging were still practised in Haryana.
"I have recently written to the Union government to bring changes in the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 as it is not implemented in its true spirit. Despite strict legal provisions, instances of atrocities are repeated in various parts of the country," he said.
Singh said that as per official records, Dalits comprise 46% of the total strength of students studying in government schools, and suggested that public officials should also admit their wards in such schools.
"It is a worrying trend as the standards of education are quite poor in government schools and Dalits are being marginlised. I am of the opinion that wards of public officials, including the deputy commissioner, should be enrolled in government schools. The mechanism may infuse a new lease of life in the neglected sector of education," he said.
PLOTS FOR POOR
The NCSC member told reporters that eligible poor persons from 93 villages in Karnal district were yet to get free residential plots under the state government's welfare programme.
"Feedback from all over the state on plot allotment is quite dismal and I condemn it. I have cautioned district officials that they shall face action if they failed to guard the interests of Dalits as per the legal provisions," he said.
LAUDS CHANDIGARH FOR BEING PRO-DALIT
The NCSC member said it was heartening to notice that not even a single case of Dalit atrocity was registered in Chandigarh in the past two years.
"It reflects the evolved face of the society that has given value to equal rights to all," he said.
PARAMILITARY FORCES TO STAY AT MIRCHPUR
Singh said that the NCSC was aware of the developments at Mirchpur village in Hisar where members of the Dalit community were living under the constant threat of a casteist clash with the dominant class.
Singh said that he would meet the oppressed community next week and had conveyed his deep concern for them.
"The matter of Mirchpur where a father-daughter duo was allegedly charred to death by Jats is pending with the Supreme Court. Till the matter is settled by the apex court, the commission would not allow withdrawal of forces from the village," he said.