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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Free to hurt: Editorial on NCRB data showing increasing crimes against Adivasis and Dalits

BJP’s success in the latest assembly elections suggests that social justice is not an issue with voters. Violence towards the socially disempowered seems to have become acceptable

The Editorial Board Published 13.12.23, 07:04 AM
Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi File Photo

Regretful gestures by politicians may be spectacular, but seldom go beyond that. Responding to the public outrage over a video clip showing an upper-caste man urinating on a tribal man, the former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh invited the tribal man home, washed his feet and apologised to him. The act echoed the prime minister’s act of washing the feet of five sanitation workers in 2019. Yet data from the National Crime Records Bureau indicate that atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis have kept increasing markedly since 2013 until 2022, when they are shown as the highest in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh respectively. According to the latest NCRB report, there were 15,368 crimes against Scheduled Caste persons last year in UP, while Madhya Pradesh ranked first in crimes against Scheduled Tribes from 2020 to 2022. Crimes against Dalits increased from 50,744 in 2021 to 57,428 last year. The atrocities are highest overall in two Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states, and have increased greatly in Bihar too. This is a double failure. The prime minister claims that the progress of all is his government’s motto. The NCRB data proclaim the exact opposite. Meanwhile, BJP state governments had the perfect opportunity to fulfil Narendra Modi’s wishes, but atrocities against Dalit and tribal people have grown rather than declined.

This is not to suggest that non-BJP state governments have done well; had that been the case, the report would not have shown such a huge increase. Rajasthan, for example, is among the top states in the count of Dalit and tribal oppression; it has also increased in Chhattisgarh. Upper-caste supremacy is part of the Hindutva project; its influence has driven caste-consciousness deeper into the Indian mind everywhere. The growing number of suicides of Dalit students in some of the best educational institutions is a tragic sign of this. The gradual withdrawal of scholarships for students from SC/ST groups in school and in higher studies could be a pointer to the attitude of Mr Modi’s government. Yet the BJP’s success in the latest assembly elections suggests that social justice is not an issue with voters. Violence towards the socially disempowered seems to have become acceptable, and divisiveness welcomed. But it is the responsibility of every voter, not just those who suffer, to hold governments accountable. Should allowing crime be rewarded?

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