Need to tackle rise in SC/ST atrocity cases: Wasnik

Government admitted that there was a rise in the number of atrocity cases against people of schedule caste and scheduled tribes in the country and said there was an urgent need to tackle the issue.

Updated: Mar 26, 2011, 15:57 PM IST

New Delhi: Government on Saturday admitted that
there was a rise in the number of atrocity cases against
people of schedule caste and scheduled tribes in the country
and said there was an urgent need to tackle the issue.

"It is a fact that despite having the SC/ST (prevention
of atrocity) Act, there has been an increase in the number of
atrocity cases against people of these communities in recent
times. There is a need to tackle this issue," Social Justice
and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik said here.
According to National Crime Records Bureau statistics,
a total of 80,489 cases of atrocity against scheduled tribes
were recorded from 1995 to 2009.

He was speaking at the first national consultation of
tribal people`s movements and organisations on `implementation
of the SC/ST Act and Tribal Sub-plan (TSP)`.

He lamented that the conviction rate in such cases was
abysmally low at 27 per cent and that the pendency of cases in
courts nationwide was as much as 81 per cent.
On the issue of allocation of funds for the TSP and
Special Complement Plan (SCP), he said it has been found that
this was not working as per the plan, adding that, there have
been complaints that funds for SC/ST projects and people were
not reaching the rights hands.

"We are improving the monitoring mechanism and several
shortcomings have been done away with. Earlier, one could not
figure out the exact allocation by the finance ministry, but,
we requested Pranab Mukherjee and he has changed pattern in
the recent Union Budget," Wasnik said.

Regarding government`s plans for education of the SC/ST
communities, he said till now they were only provided with a
post-matric scholarship scheme, which nearly 47 lakh students
took benefit of annually.

"Now, for the first time, government will provide
pre-matric scholarship schemes, targeting 40 lakh students,"
the minister said.

Vasanti, a leading SC/ST activist, spoke about the plight
of tribal men and women working as domestic helps in New Delhi
and other parts of the country and said she was optimistic
that the National Advisory Council, headed by UPA chairperson
Sonia Gandhi, was looking at preparing a draft Domestic
Workers Social Security Bill.

Citing a recent case, she said a senior Indian Foreign
Service (IFS) officer, presently posted in Ahmedabad, has been
accused of sexual harassment by his house help who is a tribal
girl.

"We urge the Social Justice Minister to write to the
Ministry of External Affairs to take action against this
officer," she said.

PTI