New Delh Amid a raging row over attack on dalits for skinning a dead cow in Gujarat, the Centre has flagged the "anomaly and sudden increase" in crimes against people belonging to Scheduled Castes (SC) in BJP-ruled Gujarat and Chhattisgarh and sought details from administration there.
Gujarat and Chhattisgarh have reported the highest crime rate of 163.30 per cent (6,655 cases) and 91.90 per cent (3,008 cases) against members of SC community during last year.
"The anomaly and sudden increase in respect to Gujarat and Chhattisgarh are abnormal and are being highlighted so that these states can provide actual data in case there was a mistake in reporting," according to the agenda papers for meeting on 'Monitoring the implementation of constitutional safeguards for Scheduled Castes" held here today by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
The papers said that Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, which had reported 1,190 and 242 such crimes respectively in 2013, are among the states "that deserve special attention".
Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan also have high rate of crimes against SC people in years 2013, 2014 and 2015.
A total of 8,946 cases were reported last year in Uttar Pradesh as against 8,075 and 7,078 incidents in 2014 and 2013. In Rajasthan, 7,144 such cases were reported in 2015 as against 8,028 in 2014 and 6,475 in 2013, the agenda papers said.
The issue was taken up at the day-long meeting, attended by representatives of various state governments and senior police officials, against the backdrop of attack on Centre from the opposition parties on the Gujarat incident where dalit youths were assaulted by vigilantes for skinning a dead cow.
The agenda papers also highlighted recent trends in atrocity cases received in National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) which include death of research scholar Rohith Vemula in University of Hyderabad.
"A SC research scholar of the University of Hyderabad allegedly hanged himself to death, 15 days after he was expelled from his hostel along with four other researchers. There are cases reported from Delhi University regarding harassment of SC scholars," the agenda papers highlighted.
A case of preventing an SC bridegroom from riding on the horseback was reported from Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, in addition to cases of prejudice in mid-day meal, honour killings and rape and murder of SC women in other parts of the country, it said.
Inaugurating the meeting, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot said there has been a rise in criminal cases of atrocities against people of reserved class.
"We feel such incidents should not happen. It is a matter of concern for us. If at all such cases happen, states must ensure speedy and prompt justice to victims," the Minister said.
He said the government has made a provision to consider it as a crime if an man from Sc community is stopped from sitting on a horse as part of marriage procession.