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Caste-based murder: Zero compliance with SC/ST Act in Karnataka, says report

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Koppal/Karnataka: A group of lawyers and activists have authored a report highlighting the inaction and non-compliance of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (SC/ST Act) in the murder of a Dalit man that happened here, reports The News Minute.

The authors, Sannahanumathappa Hulihyder, Nagaraj Pujar, Parasuram Guruvappa, Buddappa Hanumamma, Maitreyi Krishnan and Clifton D'Rozario, belong to Savitri Bai Phule-Dr BR Ambedkar-Bhagat Singh (SAB) Vedike. Their report chronicles the murder and its aftermath and includes a five-point recommendation regarding the murder and the details of the prevailing caste-based divisions in the village.

In the group's report, they say that as per the SC/ST Act, the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of the Police have to visit where the atrocity happened to assess the loss of life and property. Following their visit, they must prepare a list of victims, family members, and dependents entitled to relief. These procedures were not carried out, and the protection to witnesses of the incident, as mandated by the SC/ST Act, has not been provided yet. Only the Tahsildar and Social Welfare Officer had visited the murder victim's house, and the latter informed the family of their entitlements under SC/ST Act. Though the heinous incident happened nearly a month ago, even the elected representatives of the gram or Zila panchayat, MLA or MP hasn't visited the family yet. Both the MLA and MP are from the ruling party BJP, the report states.

In the five-point recommendation, the report suggests a court-monitored investigation in the murder and demands the immediate arrest of all the accused. All the officials and representatives concerned must visit Baragpur village and meet the victim's family and perform their duties mandated by SC/ST Act and Rules. The District administration must order intense police patrolling and sufficient security for witnesses and provide relief and rehabilitation to the victims. The report also recommends that the family be provided with notice of any court proceedings, and the state ensures that the family is provided with legal aid. Finally, all steps should be taken for the economic and social rehabilitation of the family.

The authors allege, in the report, that defanging of SC/ST Act has been systematic. It says that despite the law mandate to the state government to prepare a model contingency plan for implementing the provisions of the Act, the public is not aware of it. The model should specify the role and responsibility of various departments and their officers at different levels and rural or urban local bodies and non-government organisations. Also, the relief package for the victims should be laid out.

The report also includes the caste discrimination still prevalent in the Koppal district. Dalit men of Baragaru village here is not allowed to use the neighbourhood hairdressing salon. The SC community is not allowed inside the temple premises for prayers or in the village eatery. It also notes that murder is not uncommon here since the government has not taken any positive action against caste-based atrocities, even though such cases are continuously reported. One incident of murder or attempt to murder is committed against SC/ST communities once in three days. One woman of these communities is raped every two days, the report states, quoting the Karnataka State Annual Monitoring Report on implementing the SC/ST Act.

It was on June 22, Dhanappa that a 23-year-old of the Madiga community became the victim of caste-based murder in Baraguru village. He was murdered for his relationship with a girl of the dominant Kuruba caste, and the police filed FIR against seven and arrested four.

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TAGS:Caste SC/ST Act Karnataka 
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