Even as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday issued a notice to the Gujarat government on allegations of denial of scholarship to 3,125 dalit students in Ahmedabad district,State Social Welfare and Empowerment Minister Ramanlal Vora,himself a dalit,said the payments to dalit students all over the state had been made.
Vora,who was in Anand district in connection with the Kanya Kelavani (enrolment of girls in schools) drive,said Rs 9.43 crore had been paid to dalit students in Anand district alone. However,he said he did not have the figures about the entire state.
Stating that he was unaware of the NHRC notice,the minister claimed that the state government had deposited the scholarship and other dues of all dalit students in their bank accounts. The notice was issued by the NHRC after it took suo motu cognizance of media reports alleging that a total of 3,125 dalit students had not been given their scholarship amounts.
According to the notice,applications of 1,613 students for scholarship are pending and 1,512 students have been denied scholarships due to lack of funds. The NHRC notice,quoting media reports,alleges that Rs 3 crore meant for dalit scholarship,have been siphoned off.
The commission,in its notice to the chief secretary,Government of Gujarat,returnable within four weeks,has observed that the contents of the media reports,if true,paint a worrisome picture and constitute a gross violation of human rights of dalits students.
Various newspapers published from Ahmedabad had carried reports about the denial of scholarship to dalit students based on details provided by Kirit Rathod,a representative of an NGO called Navsarjan Trust. Rathod had demanded the details through an RTI application.
Commenting on the NHRC notice,Rathod said,While Chief Minister Narendra Modi went around the country boasting about development in the state,dalit students are not getting their dues in the state. This is a violation of the human and economic rights of dalit students.
Rathod said he had recently submitted a memorandum to Vora,demanding to set up a committee to probe the negligence in providing scholarship to dalit students. Vora told Rathod he had forwarded the letter to the CMO.
According to Rathod,the Planning Commission rules provide that the states would allocate a certain amount of the budget for the welfare of dalits in proportion to their population. Though the dalits constitute about 8 per cent of the states population,Rathod said the Gujarat government had allocated only 5.9 per cent of its annual budget this year for dalits.