Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today ordered a review of all cases filed under the SC/ST Act in the state since January 2016 shortly after concerns were raised with the state government by a delegation of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) led by its chairperson Ram Shankar Katheria.
The delegation told the chief minister that many police officers were still registering cases under the relatively milder provisions of the old SC & ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, instead of the stringent clauses of the amended Act of 2015, which was notified in 2016.
As a result, the victims and their families were not getting the higher compensation they were entitled to.
The delegation also apprised the chief minister of the absence of awareness among police officers in the lower ranks about the amended Act.
"The orders (to review the cases) were issued following a meeting with a delegation of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, led by their Chairman Ram Shankar Katheria, and Vice-Chairman L. Murugan, here today," an official spokesperson said.
Singh directed DG (Intelligence) Dinkar Gupta to arrange for the sensitization and training of police officers.
Asserting that his government was duty bound to protect the interests of all minority communities and groups in the state, the chief minister assured the delegation of stringent measures to ensure strict enforcement of the Act in order to prevent atrocities against SCs and STs.
On the issue of recent deaths of persons belonging to Scheduled Castes in reported cases of forced manual scavenging, the chief minister assured the delegation of total implementation of the Supreme Court's guidelines in this regard.
To the delegation's suggestion of employing robots for cleaning sewers to completely abolish the illegal practice of manual scavenging, the chief minister directed the concerned department to ascertain the viability of the proposal.
Earlier, Katheria expressed concern over alleged "discrimination" against Dalits in Punjab where they constitute 32 per cent of the population.
Katheria, in a meeting with senior officials of the state government, also raised the issue of not having sufficient budget for the SC community.
Talking to reporters here, Katheria said the chief secretary assured him of having a separate budget for Dalits.
Kainth claimed, "There have been many reported cases of rape and sexual assault of women belonging to the scheduled caste community. In cities like Faridkot, Mohali etc where women have been harassed or assaulted they are yet to be provided justice.
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