Crimes against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh persist, despite Mayawati’s rule

January 27th, 2009 - 12:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj PartyLucknow, Jan 27 (IANS) Crime against Dalits is on the rise in Uttar Pradesh despite a Dalit chief minister at its helm, official records show. But Dalit voters are sticking to Mayawati and her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) because they have few options, say political analysts.Analysts say the number of crimes against Dalits has increased and the community is also angry that Mayawati co-opted members from the high caste during the state assembly elections in 2007. But the caste politics of the state ensures that the Dalits have no other alternative but to go with her, they say.

The statistics provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that most of the crimes committed against Dalits were rape and murder and a majority of the accused belonged to the higher castes.

According to NCRB, 240 rape cases against Dalit women were reported in 2006 and the number increased to 318 in 2007, the year Mayawati came to power. The data for 2008 is not available with NCRB, but Dynamic Action Group, a non-government organisation operating out of the state, put the figure for the first six months of last year at 100.

The NGO was provided with the information by the office of the Director-General of Uttar Pradesh Police under the Right to Information Act.

According to official figures, 21 percent of the population of Uttar Pradesh (which was 166 million by the 2001 census) consists of Dalits. The state has the third highest percentage of Dalits in the country after West Bengal (23 percent) and Punjab (28.9 percent).

A former inspector-general of state police, S.R. Darapuri, told IANS that “the figures don’t reflect the true reality, which is worse.”

Several police commissions and human rights organisations have concluded that only 40 percent of complaints of atrocities on Dalits are registered by the police, he said.

Darapuri added that a voluminous report of the National Human Rights Commission in 2006 stated that only a fraction of the complaints by Dalits are registered by the police.

“There is no change in this situation even after Mayawati assumed power,” said Darapuri, who works for Dalit rights. He said the state’s 17-member Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was “virtually defunct”.

A similar trend is also reflected in other heinous crimes like kidnapping and murder.

But this does not change the political equation. “A majority of the Dalits look upon Mayawati as their icon. Though some of them tend to vote for leaders of their community in other parties, they have little choice apart from Mayawati,” political analyst Ramesh Dixit told IANS on phone from Lucknow.

This is because of the highly casteist nature of Uttar Pradesh politics, he said. The BSP’s main rival Samajwadi Party has its votebank in the Yadavs and Rajputs, who are opposed to the Dalits. Yadavs belong to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Rajputs are a high caste.

The Dalits were traditionally Congress supporters till the 1980s but with the party’s sway over the state petering out, the BSP stepped to fill in that space.

Opposition parties admit that Dalits vote for Mayawati irrespective of atrocities against them, but claim that the community was gradually getting disenchanted with her.

“It was a sustained campaign by Kanshi Ram (BSP founder), which drew the Dalits to the party. But they are getting disillusioned and this will be visible after a couple of more elections, though not immediately,” senior Samajwadi Party leader Reoti Raman Singh told IANS. The party is a staunch rival of the ruling BSP in the state.

“Mayawati aroused in them an emotional security, and this is why violence against them was not an issue. But they realise now that they are being exploited; this will unfold with time,” Congress spokesperson Akhilesh Pratap Singh said.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is from the state, echoed the views: “This is their (Dalits’) third exposure to Mayawati’s rule, and the sense of being exploited is increasing; that she is more into personal growth.”

Retired police official Darapuri said the roots of the atrocities against Dalits in the state runs deeper. “That there is a Dalit chief minister hardly makes a difference “.

“The system of untouchability still persists in the country, particularly very strongly in Uttar Pradesh, despite the fact that the constitution banned the system in 1950,” Darapuri told IANS.

“It is due to this persisting system that an alarming number of cases of atrocities on Dalits are reported in the state,” he said.

However, the top brass of the state police claim that there has been a marked decrease in the crime against Dalits in the past year or so.

“The present (Mayawati) government’s top priority is law and order and we are determined to ensure the safety of all the residents of the state, be it of any community or society,” Additional Director General of police (crime, law and order) Brijlal sserted.

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