29, Sep 2022 | CJP Team
Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) have filed a complaint with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC)seeking greater protection for the family of the 15-year-old Dalit boy, Nikhit Dohre from Uttar Pradesh who succumbed to his injuries after being allegedly thrashed mercilessly with sticks and rods, by an “upper caste” teacher. CJP’s complaint also seeks stringent action against the alleged perpetrator, who is still not behind the bars, fair investigation and monitoring of the prosecution. Besides, the CJP has decried the criminalising of the protests against this death that have resulted in over 200 FIRs against protesters, including against the father of the boy who lost his life.
In the petition, CJP has highlighted the plight of the Dalit community living in India. While giving the detailed account of the offence, CJP has further emphasised on the need for providing further protection under the existing law to the victim’s family to ensure that they upper caste do not further harass the family into withdrawing their complaint. The complaint states, “Respected Sir, we also urge that the National Commission for Scheduled Castes also closely monitors the case through the investigation and prosecution to ensure that substantive and exemplary justice is delivered. The tragic young life lost must be reasonably compensated for by justice and full reparation. Often after the first flush of media attention when the furore dies down, the investigation falters and when evidence is not properly collected, the prosecution fails. It would be in the fitness of things that the NCSCST Commission takes an interest in deliverance of justice in this case till justice is delivered.”
In addition to this, CJP’s complaint also highlights how the power of the police is now being used against the family of the victim as he was arrested for protesting for the arrest of the teacher. The complaint states “In furtherance to this, on September 27, the Auraiya district police arrested 286 people for rioting and obstructing the performance of their duties, among them was the father of a 15-year-old Dalit boy who died while receiving treatment after allegedly being beaten by his teacher for making a mistake in an exam earlier this month. Since the father and demonstrators are now being targeted by the district police, the bereaved family has begun to suffer penalties. Instead of ensuring that the perpetrator of this crime is put behind bars, the police is busy further tormenting the Dalit family and the protestors. It is to be noted that while assurance was given by the police that the accused teacher will be arrested, no arrest has been made so far. It is clear from the aforementioned that the family of the victims is under attack and the focus of the police officials is to bury this incident.”
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“The young boy, Nikhit Dohre, faced this brute casteist assault by his social science teacher, Ashwini Singh, allegedly because he spelt a word incorrectly during an exam. The victim’s father has alleged that Singh, purportedly belonging to an ‘upper caste’, unleashed the thrashing on the minor youth with sticks and rods and even kicked him until he fell unconscious. We are aware that an offence has already been registered and are simply urging that further, full, adequate and timely protection –by sensitive officers of the police and or paramilitary –under the existing law is also provided to the victim’s family.”
The details about this incident may be read in the CJP complaint here
Pattern of abuse and social ostracisation of Dalits
The CJP complaint also details the pattern of abuse against Dalits.
“This incident is just the last instance of how Dalits continue to be vulnerable to such attacks which are not just violent in nature but also emerge from trivial social stigma such as entry into temples, accessto cremation grounds, sporting a moustache, riding a horse and so on. According to the recent report released by the NCRB, a total of 50,900 cases were registered for committing crime against India’s Scheduled Castes (SCs) and 8,802 cases were registered for committing crime against India’s Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the country. It shows a consistent increase in the crime rate. In comparison to the year 2020, in 2021 the rate of atrocities has increased by 6.4% in case of ST’s and by 1.2% in case of SC’s.
It is also being argued by social activists and researchers working on implementation of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 that the reported data by the Home Department were the cases registered in different police stations of the state while there were equal number of cases that are underreported due to a number of reasons, as it is not easy to get the cases registered due to non-cooperation by police and many cases are being settled under pressure by influential people of dominant castes and by mostly those belonging to ruling parties. In the complaint filed by the CJP, many recent cases have been cited were there have been reports of the families of the Dalit victims and witnesses being harassed and coerced to take their complaints back.”
The complaint filed also brought to focus the rising number of cases where Dalit children are facing violence and abuse at the hands of the upper caste teachers. In just the month of September, more than 10 cases have been reported wherein Dalit children have been beaten up by teachers of the upper caste. On September 16, 2022, in the district of Chandauli, Uttar Pradesh, another Dalit student who was allegedly beaten by his teacher for daring to complain about the non-functional computers in the school. The boy had complained to the principal secretary, social welfare department regarding the non- functional computers in his school, namely Deendayal Upadhyaya Ashram Paddhati Vidyalaya. The student made a complaint to the principal secretary when he came to visit the school on Tuesday. After the principal secretary left the class X student identified as Shivam was confronted by his teacher, who has been identified as Awadhesh Singh Kushwaha, who then went on to beat him up. He beat him up so badly that it left Shivam with a fractured hand.
In another reported incident, a Dalit student in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia was allegedly locked up in a classroom and beaten with a metal rod by his teacher for touching the latter’s motorcycle. The teacher, Krishna Mohan Sharma, has been suspended and the case is being investigated. On September 6, another such incident was reported wherein a seven-year-old Dalit student was allegedly beaten up and his head rubbed on the ground by a teacher in Uttar Pradesh. The Dalit boy, studying in Class 2 in government primary school in Gangapur Talia village in Kiorauna area, was playing in the school ground when the teacher punched him and rubbed his head on the ground. The student sustained an injury near his right eye.
CJP has urged the Commission to follow the example of the Hathras Rape case, wherein an alleged gang-rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman took place in Hathras in Uttar Pradesh. In the said case, a three-fold protection mechanism has been devised to protect the families of the victim from any kind of pressure. The struggles of many Dalit families who experience atrocities do not end with the crime perpetrated against them, just like the family of the Hathras rape victim, whoclaim that Thakurs, the community to which the accused belong, are threatening them to leave the area.
Therefore, keeping in mind the gravity of the situation, CJP has urged the NCSC to provide further protection to the victim’s family under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.