Ensure proper implementation of SC/ ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act without diluting it: NCSPA demands

By TCN News:

National Convention on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination based on Caste (Work and Descent) was organized on 27th September in Constitution Club  to bring together Dalit leaders, Parliamentarians and activists across the nation and other South Asian countries to address the challenges in the implementation and continuous attempts to dilute the provisions of the SCs and STs (PoA) Act.

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Dr Ramesh Nathan, National Convener, NCSPA   delivered the welcome speech in which he mentioned that attempts are being made to dilute the SC/SST (PoA) Act because the implementation of the Act is very poor.

The supreme court in its verdict of 20th march diluted the SCs and STs (PoA) Act and protests were carried out 2nd April. But the police unleashed excessive force to suppress the protests organised during the Bharat Bandh. Several protesters were injured and killed in several parts of the country including Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha, Andhra Pradesh. Thereafter NCDHR has put a lot of effort to restore its original provisions.  NCDHR filed review petition and did continuous advocacy to restore the original provisions of the Act.

And now amidst so many challenges the banning of the use of  the word ‘Dalit’ by media  has been another setback to Dalit movement .

Shri. P.S. Krishnan IAS, Former Secretary to the Government of India & Chief Advisor, NCSPA, delivered his opening speech with an introduction to the background of the amendment to the SCs and STs (PoA) Act. He mentioned that there has been resentment among the Dalit and Adivasis community against the government because of continuous attempt to dilute the Act.

Other prominent dignitaries were Ms. Meenakshi Natrajan, Former M.P, Indian National Congress, M.P, Ram Lakhan Chamar, Member of Parliament, Nepal, Mr. Jai Singh, Dalit Dasta Virodhi Manch, Dr K. Krishnan, D. Raja, M.P, Communist Party of India, Delhi Dr. Thol. Thirumavalavan, Former M.P President, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), Tamil Nadu and the 17 Survivors and the family members of those died during the April 02, 2018 Bharat Bandh from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh for protesting against the Supreme Court order of March 20 2018 diluting the SCs and STs (PoA) Act.

These 17 survivors and martyrs were conferred Dr B.R Ambedkar National Award 2018 for their contribution in restoring the original form of the Act.

All the speakers focussed on the challenges in implementing the SC/ ST (PoA) Act and their continuous consistent efforts to ensure that the Act is restored.

The silence of the president of India who is supposed to be the protector of the constitution was also questioned.

Later more discussion ensued on ‘ Untouchability Free South Asia’. Delegates and Parliamentarians from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka participated in the convention to discuss on the status of legal framework in their respective countries and inclusion of caste perspective in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals.

Other important delegates were Paul Divakar, Chairperson ,ADRF, Mr. Wilson Bezwada, National Convener, Safai Karamchari Andolan, Ms. Durga Sob, Co-Chairperson ADRF & Director, Feminist Dalit Organization, Nepal and Mr. Bhakta Biswakarma, Director, Dalit NGO Federation, Ms. Rineeta Naik, Social Inclusion Specialist, UN Resident Coordinator, India ,  Ms. Vimal Thorat, National Convener, NCDHR, Ms. Annie Namala, Director, Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion and Mr. Siva Pragasham, Director, Human Development Organization, Srilanka.

After fruitful discussions the delegates from India and other South Asian countries came up with the following demands:

  1. Justice to the 17 survivors and those who died during the protest organized on 2nd April Bharat Band and arrest of the accused.
  2. The Central and State governments should ensure proper implementation of the SCs and STs POA  Amended Act 2018  including establishment of Exclusive Special Courts and appointment of Special Public Prosecutors
  3. The government authorities to provide special protection to the SCs and STs communities in declared atrocity prone regions
  4. Supreme Court should take cognizance of the ground situations of historical injustice to the Dalits and Adivasis
  5. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to withdraw the circular banning to the use the word ‘Dalit’ by the Media and recognize the term as a self-empowering and unifying identity; and not to further degrade the term
  6. The legal protection enforcement authorities should recognize the wide spread existence of untouchability practiced against Dalits
  7. The Authorities to take into account caste perspectives while implementing SDGs
  8. UN Guidelines on Elimination of Discrimination based on Work and Descent should be ratified and be implemented in true spirit by South Asian countries including India