Friday, October 10, 2003

Bihar's record poor in Dalit atrocities

MANISHA PRAKASH

TIMES NEWS NETWORK [FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2003 02:43:10 AM]

PATNA: Bihar occupies the third position as far as the number of Dalit atrocities cases is concerned. The first two positions are held by UP and Rajasthan, said Vijay Sonkar Shastri, chairman of National Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Commission, here on Thursday.

The record of Bihar in this regard can be said to be poor as 18% of the cases of inhumanity against the Dalits are reported from here. UP accounts for 23% and Rajasthan 20% of such cases, he said while talking to mediapersons.

He said that this was his first visit to the state with the objective of activating the Bihar directorate of the commission, which is in need of improvement. He stated that since morning he had already received 50 complaints here.

He regretted that proper utilisation of the funds for the development of the SCs and STs allotted by the Centre to the Bihar government is not done. As a result, the amount lapses or is carried over for use in the following year. He cited the example of Madhya Pradesh saying that when a financial review was made, an amount of Rs 1,600 crore meant for the SCs and STs was found lying idle. A similar review would be conducted in Bihar soon, he added.

He also said that the awareness among people has increased and the commission receives almost 250 to 500 applications per day from all over India. This is a positive sign. He said that the commission is facing problems in its functioning as there is a severe staff crunch. While there are 350 sanctioned posts, 100 are lying empty.

Answering a question, he said that whenever crimes against Dalits are reported in the media, the commission takes cognizance of the fact and initiates suitable action accordingly. His visit to Bihar is to send the message that such crimes in the state would not go unnoticed, he stated.

Shastri said that extremism in central Bihar is the result of resentment of the backward classes towards the indifference of the government. If the government takes measures for their upliftment, the violence would automatically stop.

Replying to a question about Vijay Choudhary, a member of the commission who has filed cases against almost all the media houses and against whom the governments of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have lodged complaints, he said that the complaints against him have been forwarded to the ministry concerned and also to the Prime Minister and the President. It is up to them to decide on the issue.

Source: The Times of India, October 10, 2003

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