New Delhi, Aug. 22: The deputy Prime Minister today pleaded the Centre’s helplessness to directly contain the increasing atrocities on Dalits.
Replying to a short discussion on the subject in the Lok Sabha, L.K. Advani said the primary responsibility rested with the state governments. Bound by the Constitution, the Centre could only issue directives and give suggestions to the states. Atrocities against Dalits were unacceptable and a crime that worked against the objective of social harmony, he said. Advani expressed the need for an effective law to combat the social menace.
The problem could be partly attributed to “bureaucratic prejudice” against Dalits and the continuing prevalence of the social evil of untouchability, he said. These practices must be fought, Advani emphasised.
Though the Centre has its own agencies to inquire and gather facts, as home minister he said he could provide to the House only those information and facts supplied by the states on instances of atrocities.
Taking a dig at Bengal’s recent refusal to allow central officials to make a spot inquiry on reports of killings, he said: “Some state governments do not even allow our officials to visit their states for inquiry.”
Advani said 137 fast-track courts have been set up in 10 states for speedy trial in cases of atrocities against Dalits. Special cells, too, have been constituted in 17 states and a Union territory to tackle the menace.
As many as 12 states, he said, have been declared “sensitive”. These are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan charged that no action had yet been taken against the accused in the Jhajjar incident in Haryana in which five Dalits were killed. Advani said Haryana was initiating the process of chargesheeting all officials concerned.
He also assured Paswan that steps would be taken to ensure that Guru Ravidas temples belonging to Dalits are not targeted for demolition.
Paswan, who initiated the debate yesterday, had referred to three instances of attacks on these temples — two in Delhi and one in Chandigarh.