Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 17
The murder of Jagmale Singh was just one among many cases of atrocities on Dalits in the state. Six such cases are reported everyday in Punjab, which has the highest population of the community in the country. The actual situation may be even worse as these cases are those which are reported to the Punjab State Scheduled Castes Commission, many go unreported.
Going by the data compiled by the commission, every year around 2,000 cases of Dalit atrocities/discrimination are reported. Between 2004 and 2019, around 22,000 such cases were reported. Tejinder Kaur, chairperson, Punjab State Scheduled Castes Commission, agrees that the actual number may be much higher as a large number of cases are neither reported to the police nor to the commission.
For instance as per police records, on an average, 132 cases of crime/atrocities against Scheduled Castes were reported over the past three years. As per a report by the National Crime Records Bureau released last month, a total of 147 cases were reported in 2015, 132 in 2016 and 118 in 2017. As per the report in 2017, 87 cases were reported in which The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, was applied. In separate cases, seven Dalits were murdered and three cases of attempt to murder were also reported.
It is a common practice with the state police to “not register FIRs” sometimes even in cases of brutal atrocity. This was also noticed in Jagmale’s case.
Rajesh Bagha, former Chairman, Punjab State Scheduled Castes Commission, says, “During my tenure, I had noticed that the police would always try to break a deal between the oppressor and the oppressed. They commonly don’t register FIRs as it raises questions on the performance of the Station House Officer concerned. We had issued notices to the police repeatedly on the issue but not much could change. As per the Act as well as Supreme Court directions, the inquiry should be done by the DSP but the whole system is rotten,” says Rajesh Bagha, former Chairman, Punjab State Scheduled Castes Commission.
Significantly, like Jagmale’s case, a large number of cases of brutal atrocity against Dalits have been reported from the cotton belt of the state. Bant Singh lost three limbs for raising voice against his daughter’s rape and Dalit Bhim Tank from Abohar was killed after his legs were chopped off with a saw machine.
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