Despite the ruling BJP and its allies winning maximum number of reserved Dalit and tribal seats in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the number of atrocities against the two communities has increased and the co-relationship is troubling and humiliating, said leading human rights activist Martin Macwan while releasing a book — Bhed-Bharat (Discriminated India). Compiled by him in Gujarati, the book chronicles the true stories of atrocities against the two communities registered between 2014 and 2018 across India.
The book was released at Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK) here by former Additional Solicitor General and senior counsel from Supreme Court Indira Jaising in the presence of former member of Planning Commission of India Syeda Hameed, former Gujarat MLA Siddharth Parmar, human rights activist Gagan Sethi and hundreds of Dalits and tribals from across the state.
Through the 248-page book, Macwan has provided synopsis of “319 cases of atrocities, abuse and negligence” that the Dalits and tribals have suffered during past five years in various parts of the country. Major source of the stories is newspaper reports.
Macwan said that no such book has been complied in the country.
In his introductory note of the book Macwan has said, “As per National Crime Records Bureau, during 2014, 2015 and 2016, there are 1,19,872 atrocities registered against the Dalits and 19,671 against tribals. So, a total of 1,39,543 atrocity cases have been registered.”
“These figures do not include cases where the provisions of Scheduled Class and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocity) Act have not been invoked. Cases where people did not go to police, out of fear, to get the incident registered are also not included in it. The figures also do not include where police only registered “applications”. It also do not include cases of manual scavenging and deaths due to asphyxiation while cleaning gutter,” Macwan has added in the note.
Addressing the gathering, Macwan said, “People ask me why this book, now? (I say) There is election after a month. I am not in any political party. But I know one thing that in Lok Sabha, 84 seats are reserved for Dalits and 46 seats for Tribals. In last election, in 2014, out of 84 (tribal) seats, 57 seats were won by BJP and its allies. And 26 out of 46 (tribal) seats were won by BJP. So, this party came to power because of whom? Because of Dalits and Tribals. And still, atrocities against Dalits and Tribals have not decreased, but increased. So, we gave you (BJP and allies) votes so that you can do atrocities on us. Is that the reason?”
Jaising said that she is appearing against a petition before the Supreme Court where some people have challenged the amended provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocity) Act on the ground that the legislation is being misused.
“The petition is going to be heard on 30th (April) and by then the English version of this book will be out. I am going to produce this book before the court. And I will ask the court to tell me who is misusing the law,” Jaising said.
“Is it an aplotical book? Certainly not,” Macwan said, adding what is most serious is that Dalits in Gujarat are around 6-7 per cent. “But those in jails of Gujarat, who have been convicted, 32 per cent of them are Dalits. So, out of 100 convicts in Gujarat, 32 are Dalits. Out of the total undertrial prisoners, 27-28 per cent are Dalits,” Macwan said, adding that in cases of atrocities lodged by Dalits, there is minimal conviction and in cases registered against Dalits, the system makes every effort to prove him/her guilty.
Navsarjan Trust, headed by Macwan, has got important data related to the atrocity cases registered in Gujarat from 1989 when the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocity) Act came into force till 2018. According to Macwan, Kirit Rathod from Navsarjan Trust had filed a Right To Information application before Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s office seeking details of “false atrocity cases” registered by Dalits in the state from 1989 till 2018.
\gIn reply, 164 police stations stated that they do not have any such information. Deputy Superintendent of Police of six districts said that in their districts no such false complaint has been registered. Police officers of seven districts did not provide any information. Eventually, information of 215 “false complaints” – during the period of 29 years – was received from the police. Going into the details of that information, it has been realised that police have called even those complaints “false” where the complaint is genuine, but the accused have not been caught or where complaint is filed, but police can’t find witnesses,” records Macwan in the introduction of the book.