Nearly 66% growth in crime against dalits took place over last 10 years according to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data. The data also showed that rape of dalit women doubled in last 10 years.
There is no government data available where the term “dalit” is being used but the researchers identified that dalits are referred as Scheduled Castes (SC) in India. The 2011 census recorded that nearly 20.14 crore is the population of dalits in India. The data also recorded that Uttar Pradesh (21%), West Bengal (11%), Bihar (8%), Tamil Nadu (7%) are the top four states where nearly half of the Indian dalit population stays.
Crimes against dalits:
The NCRB data showed that in last 10 years the number of crimes against dalits has increased by 66% and in last five years the rise is of 33%. In 2006 the total number of crimes against dalits was 27,070 which became 33,719 in 2011. The data also showed that from 2008 to 2012 the number is mostly static whereas in last five years nearly 33,659 average number of cases of crime against dalits were registered.
According to the official data, between 2012 and 2013, there was a rise of nearly 17% in the total number of crimes against dalits in India. This rise is nearly 40% between 2012 and 2014
Among last 10 years, this number is highest in 2014 which is nearly 47,064 followed by 2015 and 2013. According to the data, in every 15 miniutes one crime against dalit takes place in India.
Supreme Court’s advocate and the Vice-President of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Sanjay Parikh explained that, the rise in number between 2012 and 2014 is because NCRB included many new crime heads in 2014 report. “Previously crime against dalit women meant only rapes but from 2014, various other heads like sexual assault of dalit women were included and so the number of cases increased,” he said.
Classification of crimes against dalits:
The NCRB data recorded the crimes against dalits under three major crime heads. The first one is, Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955. This law is to record the incidents of discriminations against dalits. The second one is crimes committed by non-dalits and these cases are recorded under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 (POA). The last one is the cases where POA has not been applied and the cases are under IPC sections.
Crime against dalits in 2015:
The NCRB data showed that the total number of crimes committed against dalits in 2015 is 45,003. The number was 47,064 in 2014. Nearly 4.4% decrease in the number of total crimes could be noted in the report.
Among the total crimes committed against dalits, 38,564 cases were registered under POA act and 6,009 cases were under other IPC acts. The NCRB data recorded that nearly 106 cases were registered under Protection of Civil Rights act in 2015. Bihar has the highest number of cases booked under this act and the number is 74. This is followed by Karnataka (11), Maharashtra (9) and Himachal Pradesh (3).
Atrocities against dalits:
According to NCRB data, total 38,564 cases of atrocities against dalits were recorded in 2015. The data noted that highest number of atrocities against dalits was recorded in Uttar Pradesh with 8,357 cases in 2015 followed by Bihar (6,293), Rajasthan (5,911) and Madhya Pradesh (3,546).
The data also identified that the rate of crime against dalits is highest in Goa and the rate is 51.1. The number is followed by Rajasthan (48.4) and Bihar (38).
Atrocities against dalit include various crimes but murders and rapes are considered as the most violent.
Murder of dalits:
The NCRB report recorded total 707 murders of dalit in India in 2015. Hence nearly two dalits are murdered each day.
The trend in murder of dalits has been static in last 10 years. According to NCRB data published in 2006, the number was 673 which also implies that nearly two murders took place in a day. The actual count is same as 2015. In the last 10 years the highest number of murders of dalits took place on 2015 followed by 2014, 2013 and 2007. (Refer to Table 1 and Figure 1)
Sanjay Parikh said, “The numbers released by official records of registered murders of dalits are highly faulty because in most of the villages police refuse to register such cases.” He also said that all the FIRs do not get registered properly in India due to lack of evidence. After registering an FIR, if police does not get any proper evidence of the murder, they do not register a case. “Most of the murder cases of dalits get settled in police station and do not come to the trial court. These pre-settled cases have no proper record though officially these should have been the case,” said Parikh.
A retired IPS officer Sankar Sen said that, in the villages of India, murders of dalits are mostly committed by influential sections. So the victims’ families do not report to police. “Since mostly the upper caste people are involved in such murders, they threaten the families to ensure that the crimes are not reported,” Sen said. According to him, as dalits are the most marginalised section, most of the time they get lynched in front of many. Still nobody becomes eye witness for these cases because of life threats. Sen also explained that, in villages police work under pressure of these influential and does not risk their job.
“Law and order situation of the villages are different from the cities. Though it is shameful but in villages the political goons are far more powerful than the police,” said sen. According to him, crimes can only be decreased with proper regulation on political parties and their dominations.
Crime against dalit women:
According to NCRB data, total 2326 cases of rape of dalit women were recorded in 2015. The number implies that in a day, six rapes of dalit women takes place in India. However in 2006, nearly three rapes of dalit women were registered a day. This shows that in last 10 years rape of dalit women doubled.
The NCRB data showed that among last 10 years, 2015 witnessed the highest number of rapes of dalit women followed by the year 2014 and 2013. The data also implied that the number has increased by each passing year.
The report recorded that in 2015 nearly 74 cases of attempt to rape on dalit women were registered. Among various crimes against women, the report noted that in 2015 nearly 2800 cases of assault on dalit women with intent to outrage her modesty were registered followed by sexual harassment (1317). According to the data in 2015 nearly 8000 cases of crimes against dalit women were registered. The data implies that in India in every one hour, one crime against dalit women takes place.
Asha Kowtal, a dalit rights activist and General Secretary of All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch said, “The ground level data is different from the official data. But if you go by this record, then also it shows that how much unsafe dalit women are in India.” Commenting on the data she said, in most of the villages dalit women work harder than men as they do most of the household work which includes carrying water from taps far away from their houses. Dalits in general are victims of discrimination and the women face the threat more because the upper caste people identify them as the “soft targets”. “In many of the North Indian villages, you will find every dalit women has faced sexual assault at least once in their lifetime,” Kowtal said.
Parikh explained that after the social movements and continuous efforts of various human rights groups in the villages, now many cases of sexual assault are being reported. Earlier this was not the case. “I do not think that the number of rapes of dalit women were this less 10 years ago. That time people could not gather the courage to register these cases and police was also inactive,” he said. (Refer to Table 2 and Figure 2)
Causes of violence against dalits:
Activists and researchers identified the rise of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the crucial factor behind the rise of violence against dalits. Till 2013 the Central Government was under Congress and its alliance. But with the election campaigns into play from 2012 play, the crimes against dalits aggravated.
“The data clearly shows that the rise of violence against dalits has a direct connection with the rise of BJP in power,” said Paul Divankar, the General Secretary of National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights. He also explained that, the main problem with dalits is the violence and every government has failed to protect them. Violence against dalits is not limited to physical violence but also includes damage of their properties, not allowing them in social gatherings and many more.
“The BJP rule is the worst. Because of their conservative idea of Hinduism, The upper caste people of the Indian villages have now got the authority to torture dalits,” Divankar said.
Other researchers too identified the increasing inequality in the time of BJP government as the cause of rise in violence against dalits. “Dalit are the poorest class in India and in BJP’s time the economy has become much anti-poor. This has a direct effect on rise of violence against dalits,” said Dr. Manoj Kumar Jena, professor of sociology at Jamia Milia Islamia University.
He also explained that this rapidly growing inequality has affected the rural economy as a whole. So the other sections of the rural population also became more violent towards dalits as they are the most vulnerable section.
However, BJP’s SC Morcha President, Dr. Sanjay Paswan said that, the rise in number of crimes against dalits has no link with BJP. He explained that in various states like UP, BJP is not in power and security is a state issue. “You cannot say that rise in BJP is the cause of rise in crimes against dalits because we are not responsible for the securities of various states,” he said.
Commenting on the states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where BJP is in power, he said that, these are the states with higher dalit population so the crime rate is also high. “Rise of one party cannot be the reason behind increase in violence against dalits,” Paswan said.
While BJP pointed at law and order failures of the states, the former IPS officer Sankar Sen said that, in general the tendency of crime is increasing in India. “Compared to earlier years the crimes now have also become more violent and it is general psychological phenomena, “ Sen said.
The official data regarding the crimes against dalits prove the rise in atrocities over the time. While the activists and politicians are busy with blame game, dalits of India live their life in fear. Lacking the basic human rights, dalits struggle every minute to survive.