20, Sep 2022 | CJP Team
Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) has filed a complaint with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) seeking greater protection for the family of the 9-year-old Dalit boy from Rajasthan who succumbed to his injuries after being allegedly thrashed mercilessly by an “upper caste” teacher. CJP’s complaint also seeks stringent action against the alleged perpetrator.
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.
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CJP’s complaint says, “We are aware that an offence has already been registered and are simply urging that further protection under the existing law is also provided to the victim’s family.”The complaint lists provisions under Section 15 A of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 that provide for “protection of victims, their dependents, and witnesses against any kind of intimidation orcoercion or inducement or violence or threats of violence” as well as right of the victim’s family “to be heard at any proceeding under this Act in respect of bail, discharge, release, parole, conviction or sentence of an accused or any connected proceedings or arguments and file written submission on conviction, acquittal or sentencing.”
Brief background of the case
According to details available publicly, the 9-year-old Dalit boy was allegedly brutally thrashed by a teacher on July 20, allegedly for touching a pot of water which was only meant for “upper caste” people such as the teacher. The boy succumbed to his injuries on August 13 in an Ahmedabad hospital, after being taken to at least six other hospitals in the interim.
It has been alleged by the boy’s father, that when he returned from school, the boy had injuries to his ears and face. Upon being asked about the injuries, the boy told his family that he was beaten up by his teacher. According to the boy’s father, the brutal beating had led to haemorrhage, and the boy’s limbs had stopped working. The family accused an upper caste teacher named Chail Singh who was enraged when the boy had touched a pot of water meant for the teacher. Singh had also allegedly verbally abused him with castiest slurs.
The accused teacher, Chail Singh was arrested on August 13 after the child’s death and the police have taken statements of his classmates and other students present on that day. The accused teacher has been reportedly charged for murder under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Pattern of abuse and social ostracisation of 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, access to 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.
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 had been devised to protect the families of the victim from any kind of pressure. CJP’s complaint refers to this and says, “In the case of the alleged gang-rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman in Hathras in Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court bench comprising the then Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Rama subramanian had asked the UP state government if witnesses in the case had been provided protection and if the family of the victim had a lawyer. In a compliance affidavit filed in the top court, the Yogi Adityanath-led government said “in order to ensure the security o fvictim’s family/witnesses, three-fold protection mechanism has been devised” — armed constabulary component, civil police component comprising of guard, gunners and shadows and installation of CCTV cameras and lights.”
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 immediately hold an investigation and inquiry into this matter with respect to the acts committed by the accused under the Indian Penal Code, the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989;
- to monitor the investigation undertaken by the Rajasthan Police and ensure that there is a fast-track trial and speedy delivery of justice;
- to ensure that the deceased victim’s family receives the necessary relief;
- to ensure that data on such monitoring is made public digitally and that progress in this case is also visible and made public electronically and digitally.
- to take any other action as you may deem fit.
CJP’s complaint may be read here:
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