National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes vice-chairman Raj Kumar Verka on Friday expressed concern over the rising crime against scheduled castes in Punjab and held the government responsible for it.
Interacting with the media at the PWD rest house here after meeting the family of Gurmail Chand of Davida Ahrana village who had died in police custody on Thursday allegedly due to police torture, Verka alleged that the state police had been completely politicised and police stations had been put under the control of SAD 'jathedars'.
"Atrocities against the SCs have risen all over the country but the situation in Punjab is the worst. Of late there have been a string of cases where SC women were harassed and now an SC man has died in police custody. What is most worrisome is that the police officials cannot protect their own family members," said Verka.
He said he had asked the central intelligence agencies to identify the "black sheep" in the state police who worked against the interests of Dalits. Stating that in the past two years, nearly 5,600 cases of atrocities against the SCs had come to light in the state, he claimed that only 7% accused were convicted. "It is because the police does not act fairly. Witnesses are pressed to turn hostile or proper investigation is not done to weaken the case," he alleged, adding that the complainants were pressed to reach a compromise.
Verka said certain courts were granting bail to the accused in the Prevention of Atrocities cases in violation of the Supreme Court ruling. He said the Commission had brought the matter to the notice of the apex court.
Earlier, expressing regret at the "custodial death" of Davida Ahrana, a resident in the custody of Mehtiana police, he directed the Jalandhar range DIG and Hoshiarpur senior superintendent of police to fix the responsibility of the accused police officials and get a case registered under the SC/ST Act also in addition to section 302 of the IPC.
He demanded immediate suspension of the Mehtiana station house officer saying that under his supervision the man was kept in the lock-up. He asked the deputy commissioner to release 75% of the Rs. 5 lakh ex gratia to the bereaved family with immediate effect.
He also directed the civil surgeon to get the viscera report of the deceased within three days and present it to the magistrate holding inquiry into the incident.
He directed the DIG to hold an inquiry into the death of Phagwara resident Ashok Kumar, whose father had alleged that he was poisoned by an SHO, and submit the report in a week.
The kin of Gurmail Chand rued that they were not allowed to keep his body at home before the cremation. They demanded that a murder case be registered against a Bhungarni resident who, they alleged, was also instrumental in Chand's death.