AHMEDABAD: Two police constables in Gujarat's Jamnagar district on Friday were placed under suspension for beating up a Dalit teenager.
The suspension order was reportedly issued by the district superintendent of police (DSP) Prem Sukh Delu after the teenager's parents lodged a complaint with him. The DSP has ordered an inquiry into the incident.
The cops detained the teenager on a charge of possession of illicit liquor and beat him up.
This is not the first incident that has come to light, Despite Gujarat having a starkly low conviction rate in cases related to Dalit atrocities as compared to the rest of India, numerous complaints have been lodged regarding incidents of discrimination against the Dalits in the state.
Data reveals that Gujarat, which has been under BJP rule for more than 27 years, has low conviction rate related to cases of atrocities against Dalits.
The data tabled in Rajya Sabha shows that the conviction rate in such cases between 2018-2021 was 3.065 percent, which is much lower than the national average.
In the last four years, out of 5369 cases registered, only 32 persons were convicted while 1012 were acquitted. Among these include serious cases like murder and rape.
Looking at the figures presented by the Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra, in the year 2018, 1426 cases were registered in Gujarat under The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. But only 14 persons were convicted. Subsequently, the number continues to decline further.
This year, 140 cases were registered in Ahmedabad, including 5 murder cases and 8 rape cases.
In 2019, out of 1416 cases, only 7 were convicted. Several cases are pending in courts.
In 2020, the number of conviction plunged to just 3 as against the 1326 cases registered. That being the year of lockdown caused by Covid-19 outbreak, the courts were hearing only essential cases.
As against the 1201 cases registered in 2021, only eight persons were convicted.
Writer and Dalit rights activist Alice Morris sees this as very alarming. Alice Said,” I disagree with the data, this data may be wrong because as per my knowledge, there are more cases that have gone unregistered. Even NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) data is underestimated.”
“Nothing has changed for Dalits in Gujarat, in 1990 Dalits were beaten for riding horses. In 2022, there was a case in Saurashtra of a boy who was shot for riding a horse.
Talking about the low conviction rate, Alice said “If you look closely at the cases in which punishment has been ordered, there will be support behind some NGO or some powerful section of the society. In most of the cases, the accused and the complainant, the witnesses are all from the same place, so they receive social and other pressures. and because of that many cases were not registered,”
Gujarat High Court advocate Utkarsh Dave questions policing by highlighting its legal aspects. According to Dave, maximum times it is found that law convictions in SC/ST act are not because of the falsity of charges but because of shoddy investigations by the police.
The police file a charge sheet in a complaint only when the role and crime of the accused appear to be correct in its investigation, otherwise, the investigating officer would file a closure report after the investigation.