ZEE NEWS,  September 28, 2012,

Does Haryana top the list of states in atrocities against Scheduled Castes as asserted by PL Punia? The chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes’ statement came in the wake of Hisar Dalit gangrape case.

“Anti-Dalit atrocities have been taking place on a large-scale in Haryana. While the state is small, in the proportion of the crimes, that is, crimes per lakh of population, Haryana tops the list,” Punia was quoted as saying in an interview to a leading business daily.

But, government data sourced from the latest National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) Report 2011 by the Zee Research Group shows that Haryana doesn’t even figure in the top three states that have registered highest crimes against Dalits in 2011 under two crime categories: Indian Penal Code and Special Local Laws, and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The latter is a special law and applies to cases where atrocity has been committed against a Dalit by an upper caste for reasons primarily of caste difference.

Another worrying trend apparent from the NCRB data is growing cases of rape of women belonging to SCs. From 1,349 cases in 2010, rape incidences of Dalit women have jumped to 1,557 in 2011 thereby registering an increase of 15.4 percent. Here again, Uttar Pradesh has reported highest 397 incidences of rape thereby accounting for 25.5 percent of the total cases in the country. Madhya Pradesh closely follows Uttar Pradesh with 327 cases i.e. 21 percent of the total cases in the country. In the first category, the dubious distinction has been earned by Uttar Pradesh – also the state with highest number of Scheduled Caste population. With 7,702 cases out of the total 33,719, the state alone accounted for 22.8 percent of crime against SCs under the Indian Penal Code and Special Local Laws. Uttar Pradesh is being followed by Rajasthan with 5,182 cases, i.e. 15.4 percent. Andhra Pradesh with 4,016 cases (11.9 percent) and Bihar with 3,623 cases (10.7 percent) trail behind Rajasthan in that order. Haryana is only 1.2 percent, way below these states.

NCRB data also points that crimes under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, is rising across the country. A total of 11,342 cases were reported under this Act during 2011 as compared to 10,513 in 2010 – a sharp increase of 7.9 percent over the previous year. Among states, Bihar has reported highest 3,024 cases accounting for 26.7 percent of the total cases reported in the country leaving behind Uttar Pradesh (17.6 percent) and Andhra Pradesh (12.7 percent) which otherwise lead in overall crimes against Dalits.

The above data clearly contradicts Punia’s statement as Haryana is way behind Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh when it comes to atrocities against SCs. However, the recent spurt in crimes targeting the marginalised and lower castes in Haryana including through khap justice suggests that roots of caste-based discrimination remain firmly entrenched in Indian society.

The women especially minor girls become easy prey for offenders who more than often get support from self-proclaimed feudalistic social orders. The malaise can be uprooted with stringent implementation of laws and creating social awareness rather than generalised statements to score brownie points.