TN dalits have no place to bury their dead

The SC/ST community in the state is having a torrid time finding burial space for the dead. During a two-day open hearing session by a committee of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), it came to  light that land marked for graveyards have been encroached upon.

The session concluded on Thursday. According to NHRC Chairperson K G Balakrishnan, land grab and delay in issue of community certificates predominated the session. A total of 317 cases were heard while 159 were disposed of.

Emphasising on the land grab issue, Balakrishnan said it was found that upper caste people had encroached upon a “graveyard for the SCs” in a village, with the state turning a blind eye to the issue.

Responding to the particular instance, the two-member NHRC committee, comprising justices B C Patel and Satyabrata Pal said both encroachers and the government officials concerned should be prosecuted under section 3(1)(v) and section 4 of SC/STs Prevention of Atrocities Act, respectively.

In certain cases, dalits complained that they were denied pattas for their lands. Even if the pattas were issued, they were denied possession. “The NHRC has asked the state to ensure delivery of possession to the patta holders,” Balahrishnan said.

The committee members also observed that the police, in connivance with the upper caste members, “diluted the FIRs” registered under the SC/STs’ Atrocities Prevention Act. Discrimination in the education sector also came to fore, with the SCs/STs complaining of either being denied education loans or told to pay the entire fee upfront in private colleges.

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