AP campaign against atrocities on Dalits
HYDERABAD, Oct 23: The Andhra Pradesh Government plans to launch a campaign against untouchability rampant in rural areas of the state. The campaign, on the lines of Janmabhoomi involving people, officials, NGOs and elected representatives, would be held for three days from November 1. This decision is one of the several taken by the government to follow up the Justice Punnaiah Commission's recommendations on atrocities against Dalits and caste discrimination. The government has decided to implement most of the recommendations from November 1. Several GOs are to be issued before that day to give effect to the recommendations.
As part of the campaign, villages where caste discrimination is prevalent would be identified and people educated on the ills of the system. The three common forms of untouchability that is, the two-glasses system in hotels, entry into temples, and separate drinking water, would be tackled during the campaign.
Also, a campaign would be launched to prevent atrocities on Dalits. Apart from the campaign, the government would observe a Civil Rights Day on 30th of every month (except in February when it would be held on 28th). Mandal-level official teams and public representatives would visit one village every week to oversee the implementation of the action plan, which will be monitored at the district and state levels.
The opposition parties with whom the government held discussions on the issue pointed out that economic inequality was the root cause of the social inequality and that the government should make financial allocations in the budget to take up welfare schemes for Dalits.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party of India (RPI) has said that the Punnaiah Commission's recommendations lacked originality and merely repeated that the existing laws should be implemented. "Why do we need a commission if it is only to recommend implementation of the existing Acts? The other recommendations made by the Commission have already been tried out and abandoned for being ineffective," said RPI President Bojja Tharakam.
Giving an instance he recalled that a government-sponsored scheme that was tried out in the 1950s and 1960s of hosting a community dinner on the 30th of every month to foster brotherhood and camaraderie among all castes, did not work. "Only the SCs and STs would turn up for the dinner, while people of other castes would keep away," he said.