NEW DELHI: The Centre and states need to step up to clamp down on rising atrocities against Dalits amid the Covid-19 pandemic, said activists on Monday. The pandemic has exposed the underlying social ills of untouchability and casteist attitude with the surging cases of caste and gender-based atrocities during lockdown, they said.
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, which has intervened in more than 80 such cases, stressed the need to draw the attention of the enforcement authorities and the judiciary on discrimination and atrocities against Dalits especially women and children. “Dalits have been discriminated against through social boycott and physical assault. Untouchability and physical abuse are rampant during the pandemic. It is important to highlight that Dalit lives matter in the country,” said Dalit rights activist Paul Divakar.
Sokhadeo Thorat, former chairperson of the University Grants Commission, said Dalits have been disproportionately left out of schemes. “Dalits are most vulnerable to exclusion and have been hard hit. The dissemination of information through various channels is very important. The impact of malnutrition and hunger will increase in the next few months. Focus has to be on employment. We need MNREGA-type schemes in urban areas as well,” he said.