Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) continued to face persecution in 2021, reveals the latest report of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Crimes against SCs and STs rose by 1.2 per cent and 6.4 per cent, respectively, compared to 2020.
Uttar Pradesh with 13,146 cases reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against SCs, accounting for 25.82 per cent of total number, followed by Rajasthan with 14.7 per cent (7,524) and Madhya Pradesh with 14.1 per cent (7,214) during the year. The next two states in the list are Bihar, accounting for 11.4 per cent (5,842) and Odisha 4.5 per cent (2,327).
The above top five states reported 70.8 per cent of cases of atrocities against SCs. The recent incidents of atrocities against SCs in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana reflects the harsh realities of caste-based violence against SCs and STs.
Atrocities against STs
As for STs, Madhya Pradesh with 2,627 cases reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against them, accounting for 29.8 per cent, followed by Rajasthan with 24 per cent (2,121 cases) and Odisha with 7.6 per cent (676 cases) during 2021. Maharashtra was next in the list with 7.13 per cent (628 cases) followed by Telangana at 5.81 per cent (512 cases). These five states reported 74.57 per cent of total cases of atrocities against STs.
There were 3,893 cases of rape against SC women, including minors, accounting for 7.64 per cent of rape cases. Out of these, 2,585 cases of rape were against Dalit women and 1,285 cases of minor rape. Cases of rape against ST women stood at 15 per cent (1,324 cases) of the total cases reported.
As far as cases of murder and attempt to murder and grievous hurt are concerned, 967, 916 and 1,286 respectively were reported against SCs and 199,148 and 114 respectively against STs.
In a huge number of cases, even the investigation has not been completed. A total of 70,818 cases of atrocities against SCs were pending for investigation at the end 2021, including previous year cases. Similarly, 12,159 cases against STs were pending for investigation. A total of 52,159 cases against SCs and 8,825 cases against STs were disposed-off by police.
Conviction percentage under the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in conjunction with IPC remained at 36.0 per cent for SCs and 28.1 per cent for STs.
SC, ST platform demands action
Following the report, the National Coalition for Strengthening SCs and STs (PoA) Act (NCSPA), a platform of more than 500 Dalits and Adivasis civil society organisations, communities, leaders and activists, said that the NCRB report confirms that even after the amended SCs and STs (PoA) Amended Act 2015 which came in force in 2016, its implementation remains a challenge.
“With the audacity with which crimes are conducted it is very much evident that there is complete absence of fear and lawlessness. Apart from violence, being perpetrated on Dalits and Adivasis, there has been an increase in untouchability practices in schools, access to drinking water, access to education and healthcare,” NCSPA said in a statement.
It demanded that an open and transparent investigation under the amendment Act be conducted and government and police officials found to have aided and abetted criminals should be prosecuted.