Crime against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in Maharashtra has shown an uptick in the period between 2015 and 2018, according to data compiled on the eve of a House committee’s visit to the state capital.
On an average, around 400 cases of crime against scheduled caste members and 140 against scheduled tribe members are registered in Maharashtra annually. Registered under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, these range from rape and murder to grievous hurt and arson.
A breakup (see graphic) shows a rise in rape cases between 2016 and 2017. While rape cases involving SC women increased from 220 to 230, those involving ST women rose from 86 to 113. Overall, crimes against SC persons rose from 397 to 414, while against ST persons from 128 to 151 between 2016 and 2017.
Data for 2018 is available till August. If a projection is to be made for the last four months, it can be seen that total cases under various heads will cross the 2017 numbers.
Activists, however, say the figures are under-reported. The data was compiled ahead of a visit to Mumbai by the House panel for the welfare of SC/STs on Monday and at a time when the provision of an immediate arrest in the event of a complaint under the SC/ST act is still being debated in the courts.
Commenting on the data presented to the panel, social activist Dr Nitin Lata Waman said the state has failed to safeguard the rights of marginalized people. “The police see it as an additional burden and many cases go unregistered under the stringent Atrocities Act.” “Such violence is a manifestation of the failure to maintain social positions and jealousy towards so-called lower social groups, who are trying to cope with historic inequality, and trying to earn social acceptance and recognition,” Dr Waman said. Kavita Ware, an activist working among tribals, said state agencies conduct research and offer measures, “but sadly, it all remains only on paper and no follow-up action is taken.”