Need to tackle rise in SC/ST atrocity cases: Wasnik

"It is a fact that despite having the SC/ST (prevention of atrocity) Act, there has been an increase in the number of atrocity cases against people of these communities in recent times. There is a need to tackle this issue," Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik said here.

According to National Crime Records Bureau statistics, a total of 80,489 cases of atrocity against scheduled tribes were recorded from 1995 to 2009. He was speaking at the first national consultation of tribal people's movements and organisations on 'implementation of the SC/ST Act and Tribal Sub-plan (TSP)'.

He lamented that the conviction rate in such cases was abysmally low at 27 per cent and that the pendency of cases in courts nationwide was as much as 81 per cent.
On the issue of allocation of funds for the TSP and Special Complement Plan (SCP), he said it has been found that this was not working as per the plan, adding that, there have been complaints that funds for SC/ST projects and people were not reaching the rights hands.

"We are improving the monitoring mechanism and several shortcomings have been done away with. Earlier, one could not figure out the exact allocation by the finance ministry, but, we requested Pranab Mukherjee and he has changed pattern in the recent Union Budget," Wasnik said.

Regarding government's plans for education of the SC/ST communities, he said till now they were only provided with a post-matric scholarship scheme, which nearly 47 lakh students took benefit of annually. "Now, for the first time, government will provide pre-matric scholarship schemes, targeting 40 lakh students," the minister said.

Vasanti, a leading SC/ST activist, spoke about the plight of tribal men and women working as domestic helps in New Delhi and other parts of the country and said she was optimistic that the National Advisory Council, headed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, was looking at preparing a draft Domestic Workers Social Security Bill.

Citing a recent case, she said a senior Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, presently posted in Ahmedabad, has been accused of sexual harassment by his house help who is a tribal girl. "We urge the Social Justice Minister to write to the Ministry of External Affairs to take action against this officer," she said.

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