Cutting across party lines, members in the Lok Sabha Monday highlighted the cases of atrocities on Dalits in various parts of the country and demanded steps to prevent them.
In the Rajya Sabha, members belonging to the Trinamool Congress staged a walkout to press for a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on attacks on Dalits.
LJP member Chirag Paswan, son of Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, wondered “who could the 20 crore Dalits of the country look up to for justice”. He raised the issue of two Dalit youths being allegedly thrashed and urinated upon in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district. He claimed that a number of cases of atrocities on Dalits had been reported in Darbhanga and Kishanganj because the state government had not acted “against such crimes”.
Pappu Yadav, dissident RJD member, charged the Uttar Pradesh government with an attempt to create a rift among different castes. Meenakshi Lekhi of the BJP saw “a lot of politics” in atrocities on Dalits. She cited a number of derogatory expressions used for different denominations of Dalits, and claimed that while they had all been banned, some of them had come back in usage since the assumption of power by the new government in Delhi (implying AAP). “Usage of such words should be stopped,” she said.
Mullapally Ramchandran of the Congress referred to the arrest of two sisters on a complaint made by a CPM worker in Kerala and claimed that, as they were daughters of a Dalit leader, they were harassed by police at the instance of Left activists. While his party colleagues K C Venugopal and Anto Antony backed him, CPM members M B Rajesh and P K Biju continued to interrupt him throughout.
Thokchom Meinya of the Congress flagged the alleged racial harassment of a Manipuri woman by an immigration officer. He said that people from the Northeast had been facing such treatment even 70 years after Independence, which was reflective of the “failure of nation-building”. He sought to know why the Northeast did not find mention in the National Anthem and why textbooks didn’t teach history of that region. He sought a strong anti-racial law in India.
In the Rajya Sabha, Trinamool member Derek O’Brien said he had given a notice under Rule 267 seeking adjournment of business to take up a discussion on the “trend of disregarding the Constitution” and on the “rising protests across the country over attacks of Dalits and minorities”.
His party colleague Sukhendu Sekhar Roy claimed that the rights of Dalits and minorities were being curtailed. “The Prime Minister has to come and make a statement on growing atrocities on SCs and STs,” he demanded. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said while the subject was important, the notice under Rule 267 had been disallowed. TMC members then started shouting slogans, calling for the PM to make a statement, before trooping out of the Rajya Sabha.