Skip to main content

Bihar poll exigency?: Modi government to introduce "tougher" anti-atrocities bill in monsoon session of Parliament

By Our Representative
The Narendra Modi government -- which allowed a more stringent Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Ordinance, promulgated by the previoius UPA government in March 2014, to lapse after it came to power -- wants to "secure" Dalit votes for the forthcoming Bihar assembly polls. According to sources, it has "decided" to introduce the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill this monsoon session of Parliament.
The move is particularly significant, as the Dalits constitute about eight per cent of the Bihar population. Also, a new category, Mahadalit, has been added to include certain castes which have been allegedly left out of the scheduled castes -- Musahar, Bhuiyan, Dom, Chamar, Dhobi and Nat. Activist Satya Narain Madan categorizes Mahadalits are "the poorest of the poor, majority of them have yet to taste the fruit of development."
Mahadalits, including Dalits, constitute 16 per cent of the state's population. Paswans -- a sub-caste to which Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan belongs -- alone make up four per cent of the state population. Jitan Ram Manjhi, former chief minister who broke away from Nitish Kumar and joined hands with Modi, is also a Mahadalit.
Keen on promulgation of Land Acquisition Ordinance thrice in order to ensure that its amended pro-corporate version does not lapse, the Modi government did not give a similar treatment to the PoA Ordinance. While it did introduce the ordinance as a Bill in Parliament in July last year, the Bill was sent to the a parliamentary standing committee, and allowed the Ordinance to lapse.
However, say sources, the Modi government is now "keen on pushing it" by making a few changes in the UPA's ordinance and wants it to pass in the current session of Parliament. The UPA promulgated the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Ordinance on March 4, 2014, just before the Lok Sabha elections were announced.
On one hand, the BJP-led government is is pressure from the opposition, facing criticism from the Congress for sending the Bill to the standing committee despite the fact that most parties have supported it. On the other, the RSS, say reports, is puzzled for another reason. It wants the Modi government to insert provisions that it is not "misused" against members of the upper castes. 
Interestingly, the RSS has found support from a top non-profit body involved in worldfide fight for freedom of expression since 1921, PEN International, which says (click HERE), the anti-atrocities Act's provisions banning “intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate” to Dalits has been "misused" in India.
The UPA ordinance sought to strengthen the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, by adding new categories of actions to be treated as offences. This included forcing an individual from a Dalit community to vote or not to vote for a candidate unlawfully and occupying land belonging to such individuals wrongfully.
The ordinance specified punishment for public servants from other communities who neglect their duties relating to Dalit and Adivasi people, such as not registering a complaint or a first information report. The ordinance mandated the setting up of special courts at the district level, with exclusive public prosecutors for each special court, to speed up the trial process.
The ordinance was promulgated amidst wide feeling among Dalit and Adivasi leaders that the PoA, 1989 had "failed" in deterring crimes. The National Crime Records Bureau data show that cases registered under the Act in conjunction with Indian Penal Code provisions increased from 38,449 in 2010 to 46,114 in 2013, while the conviction rate under it was below 30 per cent.
The parliamentary standing committee tabled its report on the Bill last December, affirming most of its provisions and adding some clauses on special courts for atrocities against women, headed by a woman judge. Yet, the Modi government did not table the Bill for discussion during the budget session, prompting Congress president Sonia Gandhi to protest.

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

India's 80% construction sites "unsafe", deaths 20 times higher than those in Britain

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India may be seeking to project India’s construction sector as the country’s second-largest employer of the country after agriculture, providing jobs to more than 44 million people, and contributing nearly 9% to the national GDP, yet, ironically, its workforce is more unprotected than any other industrial sector of the country. Data suggest that the possibility of a fatality is five times more likely in the construction industry  than in a manufacturing industry, and the risk of a major injury is 2.5 times higher.

India sans Modi preferable, Congress worthier recipient of Indians’ votes: The Economist

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded and crucial commentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the electoral political battle is on, influential British weekly “The Economist”, has declared that “Indians, who are in the midst of voting in a fresh election, would be better off with a different leader”, even as pointing out that that under Modi, “India’s ruling party poses a threat to democracy.”