News Update 08/22/2003

Govt mulling uniform SC, ST status
Press Trust of India

New Delhi, Aug 22: The government on Thursday night said it would
consider a proposal to provide uniform Scheduled Caste and Scheduled
Tribe status across the country.

Intervening in a discussion on atrocities on Dalits, Social Justice
and Empowerment Minister Satyanarayan Jatiya said the government
would "certainly consider" how to give legislative shape to the
proposal which would enable a person having Scheduled Caste or tribe
status in any state to avail of the same benefits across the country.

He was responding to a suggestion mooted in this regard by Ram Vilas
Paswan (LJP) who initiated the discussion.

Jatiya assured the House that the government would consider ways and
means to remedy the anomaly with regard to the provision in
Lakshwadeep Islands, which denied the scheduled caste or tribe status
to children born to the island's inhabitants outside the Union

The minister said the Department of Personnel and Training was also
making efforts to provide vacancy-based roster to fill up posts
reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Jatiya listed various steps being taken by government to improve
educational and economic condition of Dalits including scholarships
and provision of small loans at five per cent interest to generate

A total of 30 members participated in the discussion which continued
well past midnight.

Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani will reply to the debate on Friday.

Govt has limitations to check Dalit atrocities
NEW DELHI: Members of Opposition parties, normally vocal on the
rights of the states, on Friday pleaded for a Central intervention to
protect Dalits against atrocities.

Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, on the other hand, contended that
the Centre, even though extremely concerned, had a limited role.

He maintained: "The primary responsibility is of states. The Centre
does not have the authority to act under the present Constitution.
The Centre's job is to advise states from time to time."

Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan, who was persistent with
his demand for stronger action against the accused in the Jhajjar
case, remained unconvinced.

"I have never seen India's Home Minister as helpless as today. Please
don't say you are helpless."

Paswan pointed out that not a single accused was behind the bars
today even though five innocent Dalits had been lynched. Paswan had
heated exchanges with INLD members Ajay Chautala and Sushil Indora
over the issue.

The Centre, Advani said, gives suggestions and directives to the
states to provide information about atrocities on Dalits. He said
special cells have been set up in 17 states and a Union Territory to
deal with the problem.

A total of 37 special courts have also been constituted in 10 states.
A dozen states _ Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya
Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar
Pradesh _ have identified the areas which are prone to atrocities
against Dalits.

Regarding Jhajjar, he said the Haryana government had informed him
that the trial of the accused was on, while a compensation of Rs 5
lakh each had been given to the next of kin of those killed.

When Basudeb Acharia of the CPI(M) and Paswan asked him not to go by
what the Haryana government has said, Advani said he was bound by
norms. He had to go by the state version, whether it was Haryana or
West Bengal.

Advani had a row with Shri Prakash Jaiswal of the Congress when he
sought to narrate the RSS-Jana Sangh-BJP commitment to Dalit


Paswan takes up Dalit cause, wants reserved seats in judiciary too
NEW DELHI: While demanding an increase in the number of reserved
seats for Dalits, both in the executive and the legislature, Lok
Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday demanded
reservation in the judiciary as well. He also asked for a special
Dalit regiment in the Armed forces.

He said while there are laws governing reservations for Dalits and
protection of their rights, the problem came in their implementation
by the judiciary. "Whenever we have asked for reservation in the
judiciary, people think we are mad. But the fact is that all issues
pertaining to Dalits get stuck there," he said.

Initiating a discussion under Rule 193 on atrocities on Dalits in
various parts of the country, Paswan took the lead in attacking the
Government for not implementing the recommendations of the
Delimitation Commission to raise the representation of Dalits,
Scheduled Castes and Tribes and Other Backward Classes in Parliament
and state Assemblies.

"If it is not possible for the Government to implement the
Delimitation Commission recommendations based on the 2001 census for
the upcoming general elections, it should at least be done on the
basis of the 1991 census. This will increase the seats reserved for
the downtrodden sections in Lok Sabha by up to 20," he said, adding
that the view that it would be done on the basis of 1971 elections is
not acceptable at all.

Paswan threatened to go on a hunger strike in front of the statue of
Mahatma Gandhi or Bhim Rao Ambedkar if the demand is not met. He said
that even after 56 years of Independence, the Dalits are being
subjected to inequality, discrimination and torture, including murder
and rape.

The LJP leader also took on the Government on the issue of job
reservation and alleged that SC/ST officers in the External Affairs
Ministry are not posted to `A' or `B' class countries but to back of
beyond countries where nobody else wants to go.

Citing some examples of crimes and atrocities against Dalits, he said
incidents of lynching of Dalits on false or flimsy pretexts, raping
of Dalit women and burning their houses were regular features. He
referred to killings of Dalits in Jhajjar, Haryana, and pointed
towards destruction of Dalit shrines in Delhi and other areas.

The Jhajjar incident, in which five Dalits were lynched and burnt on
false charges of cow slaughter, was the result of direct connivance
among the Government, the local administration and police, Paswan
alleged. Sounding a warning, he said that unless the Government takes
effective action for prevention of such atrocities and
discrimination, the Dalits would keep resorting to violence by
joining extremist outfits.

Tamil Nadu Muslims burn alive Dalit Hindu girl (

Mother, daughter sentenced to 4 years for 'burning' Dalit girl

THANJAVUR: A woman and her daughter who were found guilty of dousing
a Dalit
girl with kerosene and setting her afire were sentenced to four years
imprisonment each by the Sessions Court here on Wednesday.

According to the prosecution, Chitra (18), daughter of Selvaraj, a
Dalit of
Rettakudi in Sembanarkovil police limits, was employed as a domestic
servant in
the house of Fauzia Begum (55), wife of Sheik Allaudeen in Arangakudi
Suspecting that her son Thameem Ansari might be having illicit
relations with
Chitra, Fauzia had been quarrelling frequently with Chitra.

On March 13, 2002, Chitra had collected her belongings and was
getting ready to
go back to her parental home, when Fauzia and her daughter Pappa Kani
attacked Chitra. Fauzia had poured kerosene on Chitra and set her
Chitra sustained serious burns and even after the wounds had cured,
could not
move about freely.

Mayiladuthurai DSP filed cases against Fauzia Begum and Pappa Kani
under the
Protection of Civil Rights Act and on charges of attempted murder.

Principal Additional Sessions Judge S Chandrasekaran who tried the
case found
both the mother and the daughter guilty and sentenced each of them to
years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000 each. He also ordered that
Rs 90,000
of the amount be paid to Chitra as compensation.

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