'Political friction divides Dalits and tribes'
By Our Staff Reporter
Exhorting members of the Dalit and tribal communities to unite and fight for their rights, the National Human Rights Commission member, Mr.Justice K. Ramaswamy, said today that ``political friction'' had left them divided.
Addressing a protest meeting against the recent killings of Dalits in Uttar Pradesh, Mr.Justice Ramaswamy said though Dalits and tribals formed 25 per cent of India's total population, internal divisions into sub-castes and sub-groups had weakened their movement for rights.
Terming it as a ``dangerous trend'', Mr.Justice Ramaswamy pointed out that as a result of these internal bickerings, Dalits and tribals were becoming victims of atrocities and harassment.
At the meeting, organised by the Society of Depressed People for Social Justice, the NHRC member appealed to them to stand unitedly and become a strong force so that their voice could not be ignored.
Referring to the recent killings, he said it was unfortunate that every day cases of ``unabated atrocities'' were coming to light. He pointed out that violations of their human rights had become the order of the day. Even after having laws to check it, those who should enforce them had cultivated prejudices creating problems for vulnerable sections.
Stating that the NHRC had been taking up suo motu cognisance of such cases, Mr. Justice Ramaswamy said to bring a change in society towards such cases, a change in mindset was required. ``Illiteracy is also one of the reasons behind this.''
Demanding that the Government make provisions for introducing human rights as subject from the elementary level, he said the need was to cultivate an ``HR culture'' in society. He also lambasted the downward trend in political culture and insensitive approach towards their rights.
Mr.Justice Ramaswamy expressed concern over the deteriorating criminal justice system. ``The downward trend in the rate of conviction against those committing atrocities on Dalits and tribals has resulted in increased cases of excesses,'' he pointed out.