Javed Rafi ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
5th year, BA.LLB.(Hons.), Jamia Millia Islamia
“They are humans like us then why are they treated inhumanely?”
We call ourselves social animal but in my opinion we are worse than animals. We created a caste system, and then we humiliate Dalits and Adivasis and deny them their rights. On each aspect of their fundamental rights they are subjected to outcasteism. Restriction to enter religious places, untouchability, etc., is common in India. Their land is taken, when they raise their voices against it they are killed. Denial of justice to dalits (scheduled castes) and adivasis (scheduled tribes) and violence directed at them continues in India today despite official policies and declarations to the contrary.
In Tukaram v. State of Maharashtra, [AIR 1979 SC 185] an eighteen years old tribal girl, Mathura, was called to the police station on an abduction report filed by her brother in that police station. When they were about to leave the police station, Mathura was kept back in the late hours of the night by one of the constables. She was then raped by him.
Cases like this are numerous. There is no one to protect their rights because on each step to assistance they are humiliated.
What is caste discrimination?
In simple and concise manner I would like to refer to “caste discrimination” as excluding dignity from the life of a person who belongs to a lower caste. They have skills but there is no livelihood available for them. They are supposed to fulfill their duties but they are deprived of their rights. Caste discrimination is a chronic human rights condition, which involves massive violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
Although caste is strongly linked to the Hindu religion, it impacts the whole of society irrespective of religion. In India, caste pervades Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Christianity. It is a socio-religious phenomenon which is embedded in Indian culture, and although caste tends to have broken down to an extent in the cities, it is particularly strong in the rural areas where most of the population lives.
The Indian Constitution banned the practice of untouchability under Article 17 and the Schedule Caste/ Schedule Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989 was introduced to combat persecution and discrimination against Dalits and Adivasi (tribal) people. Despite the existence of these strong legal provisions, Dalit and Adivasi populations have found it virtually impossible to access their rights through the legal system.
How are the crimes against Dalits and Advasis operated today?
According to official registered data, every 4 minutes a crime is committed against SCs and STs; every day 27 atrocities are committed against them (3 rapes, 11 assaults, 13 murders); every week 5 of their houses or possessions are burnt and 6 persons are kidnapped or abducted.
In the last 15 years, approximately 1.5 crores of Dalits and Adivasis have suffered atrocities. We are also aware that such forms of atrocities like bonded labour, child labour, manual scavenging, witchcraft and devadasi practices are still prevalent in the country.
The history of violence and crimes against Dalits and Adivasis tell its own story. Some of them are as follows:
- The Kilavenmani massacre of 42 Dalits in Tamil Nadu (1968).
- The gruesome killing of Dalit Kotesu at Kanchikacherla, Andhra Pradesh (1969).
- The killings of 10 Adivasis by police over a land dispute at Indravalli, Andhra Pradesh (1978).
- The massacres of Dalits at Belchi, Bihar (1979).
- The massacre at Kafalta in Uttar Pradesh after a Dalit bridegroom rode on a horse (1980).
- The killing of Bacchdas in Mandasaur district, Madhya Pradesh (1982).
- The killing in police firing of 15 Adivasis at Banjhi in Bihar (1985).
- The mass murder of Dalits in kumher village in Rajasthan (1992).
- The assault and rape of 18 Adivasi women and looting and destruction of property by forest officials in Vaacchathi village in Tamil Nadu (1992).
- The burning to death of 8 Dalits in Kamballapalli in Karnataka (2000).
- The forcing of five chained Dalit bonded labourers to work in a stone quarry in Hangarahalli village in Karnataka (2000).
- The police attack and killing of scores of Adivasis in Muthanga range in Kerala (2003).
- The vicious attack on a Dalit man from Jhabbar in Punjab, leading to his two arms and leg having to be amputated (2006).
- The brutal murder of 4 Dalits in Khairlanji, Maharashtra (2006).
- The 93 Dalit and Adivasi Christians killed, property destroyed and 56,000 people displaced from 415 villages due to communal carnage in Kandhammal in Orissa (2008).
- The gang rape and killing of an Adivasi woman by Tripura State Rifles personnel at Shikaribari village in Tripura (2011).
- The murder of 5 Dalits and injury of 20 others at Lakshimpeta, Andhra Pradesh (2012).
- The series of Brutal gang rapes of Dalit girls and women in Haryana between September and November 2012.
- The police firing on Dalits in Than town in Gujrat (2012).
- The planned looting and burning of 405 houses in Natham, Anna Nagar and Kodampatti villages in Dharmapuri district in Tamil Nadu (2012).
Such had been the drastic records of atrocity in the history of India. They are deprived of their rights and when they raise voices against it they are killed, raped and their houses are set on fire. Even their complaints are not recorded by the police. Why are their fundamental rights not protected?
My article is just to highlight the problems that Dalits and Adivasis had been facing since the number of years. There are laws to combat this issue but there is a problem of implementation. The SCs/STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and Rules therein should be amended urgently and make it more comprehensive and powerful deterrent law against any form of atrocity against SCs and STs.
“My Final words of advice to you are educate, agitate and organize; have faith in yourself. With justice in our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle of freedom. It is the battle of reclamation of human personality.” – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar