Washington, DC, April 4, 2018– International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR), a global policy advocacy organization, along with hundreds of its associates strongly condemns police brutality against peaceful demonstrations collectively organized by Dalit Organizations, Schedule Castes/Schedule Tribes (SC/STs) and Other Backward Communities (OBCs) around India on Monday, April 2, 2018. The purpose of the demonstrations was to protest against a recent ruling on the SC/ST Act, known as the Anti-Atrocities Law, and other pending matters that violate constitutional obligations, in order to ensure inclusive governance, equality, dignity and social justice.
ICDR President and human rights advocate DB Sagar expressed his frustration over the use of ‘exclusive force’ against the peaceful demonstrations by the police and government of India. He noted that ICDR is speaking out in solidarity with the Dalit Rights Movement of India and stated that ‘the government of India should address the demands of the organizers and resolve them through constitutional procedures.” He also urged the government to undertake an independent investigation of police brutality and provide justice for victims and their families.
Dalit Rights leader Ashok Bharti said, “There has been no action from the government to curb atrocities against Dalits and tribals. On the contrary, some issues are unresolved and new issues are arising because of government inaction and the judiciary’s unfair role, resulting in the breach of constitutional rights.” Mr. Bharti demanded, “We want the complete overhaul of the judiciary so that it is as representative as Indian society. A minimum percentage of SCs, STs, OBCs and women must be established for representation in the higher courts.” “Courts must call upon the National Commissions for SCs and STs for cases related to SCs and STs,” he said, adding that “Parliament should also take note of the fact that the judiciary is often overstepping its role in matters of legislation and creating new laws that breach constitutional rights.”
According to ICDR representatives, police used exclusive force in many states during the demonstrations, which have resulted in at least ten deaths. ICDR is concerned about the safely of Dalit Rights leaders who have been facing security threats. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hIGB4NxtGg)
ICDR commends the government for filing a review petition in the Supreme Court against its attack on the SC/ST Act. ICDR supports the plans of Dalits and tribals to hold a “Million Leaders March” in Delhi in September 2018, if the government fails to resolve these matters.