Centre asks states to encourage inter-caste marriages

May 31st, 2008 - 11:24 am ICT by admin  

Agartala, May 31 (IANS) The central government has asked all states to encourage inter-caste marriages to combat caste based discrimination, an official said. “In a letter to all the chief ministers, I have requested that they increase the incentive amount for inter-caste marriages to at least Rs.50,000, of which 50 percent would be borne by the centre,” Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Meira Kumar told journalists here Friday.

“The union government was deeply concerned over the low rate of conviction and high rate of acquittal of those people involved in incidents of atrocities on people belonging to scheduled caste and tribals,” Meira Kumar said.

The minister was here to chair the sixth meeting of the high powered committee looking after the prevention of atrocities on the people belonging to scheduled caste and tribals and effective implementation of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.

Top officials of Orrissa, West Bengal and some northeastern states attended the meeting, held for the first time in the northeast.

“It is a matter of great concern that despite setting up special courts in all the states, around 80 percent of the cases relating to atrocities on the people belong to scheduled caste and tribals,” the minister said.

Meira Kumar said the maximum number cases involving atrocities on Dalits and tribals have been registered in Assam (525) and Orissa (380).

“Factors like land disputes, land alienation, bonded labour, indebtedness, non-payment of minimum wages and forced labour trigger major offences of atrocities,” she added.

Praising traditional customary laws to check crimes, the minister said: “These customary laws are also beneficial for the upliftment of backward tribals and their protection from various atrocities.”

Meira Kumar said the economic status of backward classes must be improved by introducing technological skill development programmes for Dalit youth.

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