Gujarat has witnessed a 50 per cent increase in the number of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes in the last eight years between 2010 and 2017, according to figures shared by Union Minister of State for Justice and empowerment Ramdas Athawale during his visit to the state on Friday.
The number of cases registered with the police about atrocities on Scheduled Castes under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, shows that over 9,000 cases have been registered in Gujarat during the last eight years. This include cases of murder, grievous hurt, rape, arson and other offences.
In comparison to the 1,006 cases of atrocities lodged during the year 2010, the number rose by over 50 per cent to 1,515 till the end of 2017. By the end of June 2018, an additional 795 cases were registered in the state. The figures pertaining to only Scheduled Castes show that the number of murders and rapes have more than doubled in the eight-year period. These figures were shared at a meeting held at the circuit house in Ahmedabad on Friday where the Union minister and the state government officials participated.
“I know that atrocities were committed against Dalits in Una (in 2016). Atrocities are also happening in Gujarat… It is happening in other parts of the country. Even when Congress was in power, atrocities were happening and it is continuing even when the BJP is in power. The government is not the reason for these atrocities. Casteism is the reason…,” Athawale said while briefing the mediapersons Friday.
The figures shared by the Union minister show that Gujarat account for a little over three per cent of the cases of atrocities registered in the country during 2017. “Last year’s figures show that there were 47,000 cases of atrocities (in the country) and if Gujarat’s figures are taken into consideration then 1,515 cases were registered in the state in 2017,” he added.
When asked which pockets are more prone to caste conflicts in the state, especially in connection with atrocities being committed against the SC community, Manoj Aggarwal, Principal Secretary, of the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of Gujarat said, “Yesterday, I was not there in the meeting with the honorable minister and so I will not be able to throw light on the figures shared. Director of Scheduled Castes Welfare KD Kapadia was there, you may contact him for details.” However, Kapadia could not be reached despite repeated attempts.