The 67th Republic Day brought with it more significance and reasons to be proud than the annual parade let on. The commencement of The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes ( Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 (SC/ST PoA Act) should rightly be listed as a reason.
The amended Act includes provisions for new forms of offences, special courts, rights of victims and witnesses, and accountability of negligence of public servants.
A bolstered legislation seems like an ideal gift on Republic Day - the day that marks the enforcement of our constitution. But despite the constitution providing for social justice, the real challenge really is getting society to be more inclusive.
Only recently did a Dalit student commit suicide in India, allegedly due to the oppression of the system. Rohith Vemula, even referred to his birth as a 'fatal accident' in his suicide note.
Here are a few numbers that reveal the condition of Dalits and tribals living in India. The figures clearly demonstrate why we need more robust laws to safeguard their rights:
"Surekha Bhotmange, a dalit woman in a self-reliant household, was cooking dinner for her family when an estimated 60 villagers stormed into the house, dragged her and her three children out.
She was stripped, along with her daughter and her sons were ordered to rape their mother and sister. On refusal, they were beaten to death.
Both of them were dragged further away, gang raped and their bodies mutilated. Allegedly, necrophilia ensued.
Her 'faults' were plenty- she was an educated Dalit women (by average standard) influenced by Ambedkarite Buddhism, a strong voice in her community and had sought redress from the court for a land dispute. Additionally, she used to take pride that her children attended school".
However, criminal atrocities and legal complexities are not the only problems. Some other forms of Dalit discrimination exist, according to the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights survey in 565 Indian villages:
Edited by Anna Verghese
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