Dalit atrocities: Under Opposition attack, Centre asks states to punish perpetrators
Under continuous attack by united Opposition over atrocities against dalits, the government today said the states should take strict action against anti-social elements indulging in activities like cow protection as it pitched for a united fight against the "perverted mindset".
"Some anti-social elements are indulging in nefarious activites in the name of cow protection...I appeal to all state governments to take strict possible action against them," Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in the Lok Sabha while replying to a discussion on atrocities on dalits.
"To deal with 'vikrut manasikta' (perverted mindset) of those who resort to such atrocities is a big challenge," he said.
A united Opposition alleged that the incidents of atrocities against dalits have increased since the NDA came to power two years back. The discussion was marred by acrimony and walkout by Congress and the Left members.
Rajnath, however, dismissed the allegations and insisted that the incidents against Dalits have come down since the Modi government took over and reeled out statistics to buttress the point.
Countering the opposition charge of not doing enough for the dalits, he said "what you could not do in 55 years, our government did in last two years".
He said the number of registered cases of atrocities against dalits were 39,346 in 2013, they went up to 40,300 in 2014 and thereafter came down to 38,564 in 2015.
"We have to accept the truth that the atrocities against dalits are going on. We have to stop it and this is a challenge for all of us," the Home Minister said while regretting that the House had to discuss the issue even 70 years after Independence.
To questions as to why Modi did not speak on the dalit atrocities for so long, he asked the opposition to spell out if earlier Prime Ministers since 1947 used to speak on each and every issue.
"The Prime Minister may speak or may not speak, but his aura should be such that action is taken against the perpetrators," Singh said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan also intervened in the debate which lasted for six hours.
"You did everything possible to humiliate B R Ambedkar, the messiah of dalits", Paswan, a dalit leader, told Congress MPs who protested vociferously.
Rajnath Singh said the Centre has issued advisories to states asking them to take stringent action against people resorting to such atrocities in the name of cow protection.
He said it was unfortunate that Parliament has to discuss the issue of atrocities on dalits 70 years after independence.
The Home Minister said that laws have been made to protect dalits, but much is desired to be done.
"Our government is trying to check atrocities on dalits. For their socio-economic upliftment, new laws have been made," he said, adding there was need to deliberate on how to stop such incidents.
"There is an illusion that since our government came to power, atrocities against dalits have gone up", he said, condemning the Una incident in Gujarat that triggered nationwide protests.
He praised the work of Sangh parivar affilates Sewa Bharti and Vanvasi Kalyan ashram for working for the cause of dalits and adivasis.
Suggesting that Ambedkar and Keshav Baliram Hedgewar were contemporaries, he said while the dalit icon fought for the socially deprived sections, the RSS founder worked for national renaissance.
Noting that government is totally committed for the development of dalits, he said no one could accuse them of being anti-national and they have never demanded creation of a separate country.
Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) said the conflict is growing as dalits are demanding justice.
"Constitution provides for equality but the society does not accept it," Mahtab said, adding that atrocities against dalits have been growing day by day in last 10 years.
He said no political party has taken upon itself to bind the society together and a number of parties are surviving by dividing the society either on the basis of society or caste.
Sadashiv Lokhande (Shiv Sena) said, "the attacks on dalits are politically motivated and it is shameful that even after 70 years of independence we have not been able to ensure progress of dalits."
Arjun Ram Meghwal (BJP) said Congress party is getting worried since dalits are shifting their support towards BJP.
Congress did not provide Baba Saheb Ambedkar the chance to be in the Lok Sabha and it was the Modi government which is thinking about their upliftment, he said.
When people died in Godhra, Congress did not speak of the dalits who lost their lives, Meghwal said.
"We are trying to do away the social and economic anomalies which the dalits are facing," Meghwal said, adding the government has strengthened the SC and ST Artocities Act, and launched schemes like Mudra Yojana and Stand Up Yojana for economic upliftment.
P Ravindra Babu (TDP) said if we one to achieve one nation, then the caste system should be abolished.
Varaprasad Rao (YSR Congress) suggested that empowerment is the solution to the dalit issue.
"Mahatma Gandhi got us independence but he did not agree to B R Ambedkar suggestion of separate electorate for dalits," he said, adding, had it been done all the problems would have been solved.
Terming 'Gau Rakshak' as a new concept, he said this should be curbed and strong action should taken against such elements.
Echoing similar views, Supriya Sule (NCP) said 100 per cent of 'Gau Rakshaks' in her area are fraud.
Others who participated in debate included Dharmendra Yadav (SP), Sirajuddin Ajmal (AIUDF) and Pappu Yadav (RJD).
(With PTI inputs)