UP witnesses steady increase in crimes against Dalits
Thursday, June 21, 2001 (Lucknow):
Uttar Pradesh has witnessed a steady increase in crimes against Dalits this year. The state police has registered about 3000 crime cases against the community in the last four and a half months. Picking up on the controversy, BSP leader Mayawati has now announced plans to launch a statewide protest starting on July 20.
On June 9, seven shepherds were killed in Fatehpur. On the June 13, five members of a Dalit family were shot dead by thakurs in Aligarh. On the June 17, five Dalits were beaten to death by thakurs, again in Fatehpur. Yesterday a Dalit poet was paraded naked in Gazipur district of eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Mayawati, Vice President, BSP, stated, "BSP officers in each district will lead the demonstration. Handbills and banners are being distributed on a large scale. We have an 11-point programme and we will try and convince the people."
According to police records, till May 15 this year, 150 Dalits have been murdered, 144 Dalit women have been raped and there have been 84 cases of rioting and 2,555 cases of assault on Dalits. During the same period last year, 121 cases of murder, 107 cases of rape, 60 cases of rioting and 1884 cases of assault were reported.
A worried government has now decided to fix accountability for such cases. Rajnath Singh, UP Chief Minister, said, "I am again sending instructions to all superintendents and magistrates of police that if such incidents are repeated, they will be held accountable."
The BJP has now decided to clarify its position before the people during its "night stay" programme in villages across the state on June 24. Kalraj Mishra, BJP President, informed, "We will discuss the problem of caste conflict with people and seek their opinion on how to establish communal harmony."
Dalit votes are crucial--constituting one fifth of the total votes in UP and with the assembly elections around the corner, issues concerning Dalits are hotting up in the state.