A non-government organisation (NGO), Peoples Campaign for Socio and Economic Equality in the Himalayas(PCSEEH), Mandi district convener Balak Ram on Tuesday said that a state-level jury, comprising of representatives of Center for Mountain Dalit Rights Himachal Chapter, Childline representatives of Dharmshala, Mandi and Nahan heard as many as 20 caste-based discrimination instances in Shimla.
Balak said that the hearing was organised on the occasion of International Human Rights Day and focused on discrimination and untouchability practices faced by the children in the educational institutions across the state.
He said that the public hearing was presided and addressed by Sukhdev Vishwapremi, national convener of PCSEEH, and eminent jury comprising of Gopal Ram Verma, Rajasthan advocate high court; KS Dhir, retired state coordinator, NSS; TS Negi, joint director education department; Brijesh Sood, deputy superintendent of police; Shyama Dogra, chairperson Protection of Child Right Commission (PCRC); and LC Chauhan, deputy director department of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Balak said that the cases heard were divided on the basis of four important issues, including discrimination faced by the Dalit children, teachers and non-teaching staff in accessing public services and policies in the education institutions; sexual harassment faced by the girls in the school and within the family; discrimination faced by disabled children and lack of services provided to them by the state and central government; and discrimination faced by poor children in the classroom by the teachers and school administration.
He added that the jury members, after hearing the cases, were shocked at the discriminatory practices faced by the Dalit children, especially the Dalit girls, in the school by the teachers, principal and administration.
The district convener said that the members of the jury expressed deep anger at the investigation of the police and at the failure of the legal system in providing speedy trail and justice to the survivors of the violence.
“The jury has recommended unanimously that all the difficulties and problems being faced by the Dalit communities will be taken up by the Protection of Child Right Commission (PCRC) to the departments concerned and the will be asked to take action in the cases,” said Balak.
He added that it was unanimously resolved that printed material of information, education and communication against untouchabilty and caste-based discrimination would be prepared by the welfare department in collaboration with the campaign on the Human Rights Framework and be pasted on the school campuses in the state.
He said that the hearing ended with launching of signature campaign on the topic of 'Discrimination Free Education Institutions' and all the jury members and participants signed and showed their solidarity and commitment against discrimination faced by the students.