ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Dalit Discontent

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The following are my views germane to the article “Judicial Atrocity?” by Anand Teltumbde (EPW, 14 April 2018). The atrocities against Dalits have been rising at an alarming rate, with the rate of conviction falling drastically. The Supreme Court, in its reasoning, has suggested misuse of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 for vested interests, but data has suggested otherwise. Any legal provision should, however, not be meddled with merely because of its misuse. Almost all the laws seeking to protect the interests of the marginalised, be it Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, the anti-rape legislation or the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, can be misused and have appallingly low conviction rates because of victims and witnesses turning hostile under duress, lapses in investigations, etc. Does this mean that we should make liberal the provisions of the laws against rape and other such heinous crimes? Any such
attempt betrays the hoary regressive fault lines prevailing in our society. 

One must quickly pore into some of the incidents of atrocities against Dalits before commenting upon the misuse of the act. Apart from the Khairlanji murders mentioned by Teltumbde, we must also look at the incident that took place in 2002 in Thinniyam village in Tiruchi district, Tamil Nadu, where two Dalit men were forced to feed upon each other’s excreta. There have also been other abysmal incidents like the Bhagana rape case in Haryana, where four Dalit girls were raped by upper-caste Jat men. Not to mention the flogging of Dalits by anti-social elements like the Ranvir Sena. Such ordeals are manifestations of an attempt at “disciplining” Dalits and restricting them well within their socially stipulated bounds. 

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Updated On : 4th May, 2018

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