Amid widespread fury over the gang rape and brutal murder of the 19-year old Dalit woman from Hathras in Uttar Pradesh last year, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) published a data revealing an overall rise in crimes against Dalits community by seven per cent.
As per the data published in 2019, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar recorded highest number of crime cases for every lakh population of Dalits.
The other states with crime rates above the national average were Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Telengana, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Kerela. Although total number of crime cases recorded against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh is highest, Rajasthan records the highest rate of almost 56 lakh SC population.
According to some Dalit rights activists, violence against the community was in part as a retaliation by members of dominant castes against any efforts to uplift the Dalits within the deep rooted caste hierarchy prevailing in India since ages.
The data was brought into light by Human Rights Watch that recently published a World Report 2021 highlighting the annual review of Dalit atrocities.
As per the report, 40 Dalit families in Odisha were socially boycotted in August when a 15-year-old girl plucked flowers from the backyard of a dominant caste family.
Additionally, a Dalit man was stripped and beaten along with his family members in Karnataka in July for allegedly touching the motorcycle of a dominant caste man.
Expressing anger over the increased atrocities against the minorities, Vimal Thorat, academic and convener of National Campaign of Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) questioned, “Are Dalits being tortured for being empowered”?
The accused feel they will have impunity adding that there is a climate of hatred against the marginalised in the country.
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Moreover, while in February, a Dalit man was beaten to death by members of dominant caste in Tamil Nadu for defecating in their field, a Dalit lawyer was killed in September over his social media posts that criticised Brahmanism.
Speaking in one voice, experts said that violence against Dalits by the privileged groups is associated with their social progress.
“Anti-Dalit violence, including rape of Dalit women, is a manifestation of resentment among members of privileged castes who feel unsettled by the social progress among Dalits. Rape is often a weapon of control”, said political economist Anoop Sadanandan.
On the other hand, the NCRB data showed Punjab, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Assam had lowest rates of Dalit atrocities.
In addition to many activists, Dalit organisations have also repeatedly expressed the need for ground implementation of Prevention of Atrocities (PoA Act).