Tamil Nadu figures among the top five States where a high number of cases of atrocities against Dalits have been reported in recent years, according to National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) Chairman P L Punia.Statistics show that since 2011, as many as 213 people belonging to Scheduled Castes have been murdered in Tamil Nadu. This year, 16 Dalits have been killed in the State so far. Punia alleged that in many cases of atrocities, the police registered FIRs only after protests or directions from courts.
“In Tamil Nadu, the highest number of sexual assaults against Dalits was recorded in 2011 when 41 rape cases were registered. It came down to 22 in the next year and 23 in 2013. In 2014, the number of rape cases was 18 and in 2015 till now, 14 sexual assault cases against Dalit women had been recorded,” Punia said.
In the last five years, 6,074 cases were filed under Prevention of Atrocities against SC/ST Act. In 2011, it was as high as 1,170, while it was 1,372 in the year 2012 and 1,497 in 2013. In 2014, the number of cases registered under the Act was 1,464 and so far this year, 571 cases had been registered under the Act.
A State level vigilance committee and district level vigilance committees had been set up to review the atrocities against Dalits twice in every year. But the panels have not met after June 2013, Punia alleged.“Nearly 60 to 70 per cent cases were closed without action and the conviction rate in Tamil Nadu is lower than the national average of 30 per cent,” he added.
On the Dalit engineering graduate Gokulraj’s murder case in Namakkal, Punia said the State DGP had told him that all the accused except one had been arrested and assured that he will be nabbed quickly. The Commission could not interfere in the investigation and it could do so only if it found the enquiry to be unsatisfactory.