Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is alleged to have extended generous financial rewards to anybody lodging a complaint against the upper castes under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 during her tenure in office.
This practice had led to many complaints being filed against the upper castes for purposes of securing monetary gains or simply to settle other scores. The Act, however, does not provide for the financial component. It is not known from which fund the rewards were disbursed to the complainants.
Leaders of the Samajwadi Party and the Communist Party of India have alleged that for lodging complaints of minor nature, a complainant used to be paid an amount between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000. In the case of major complaints like rape of Dalit women by upper caste members, the reward was around Rs 1,00,000.
The reward was allegedly handed over to the complainant even before the charges were proved. Several such cases were later found to be fabricated.
The Act came into existence in 1969 to prevent atrocities on the Dalits. According to its provisions, an offence against Dalits on casteist lines is a cognisable offence.
Under thes act, the accused cannot apply for anticipatory bail. Practising untouchability was also made a cognisable offence. Samajwadi Party leaders have alleged that during Mayawatis tenure, she used the Act to settle political scores by encouraging Dalits to file cases against the upper castes, and distributing financial rewards. The Thakur community suffered the most due to such practices, they allege.
CPI national secretary Shamim Faizee has written in the forthcoming issue of party organ `New Age that during the six-month rule of Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kalyan Singh have repeatedly complained that Mayawati has misused the provisions of the act, now popularly known as the Harijan act, to harass the people of upper castes, particularly the Rajputs.
Such was the opposition to its alleged misuse by the Mayawati government that chief minister Kalyan Singh issued a directive a day after he assumed charge on September 21, asking officials to ensure that the Act is not misused. The directive has stated that during the past few months, the Act has been misused. Many cases registered under the Act were proved to be false.
The directive has been strongly opposed by Mawayati who has termed it anti-Dalit. R K Chaudhary, a BSP minister in the Kalyan Singh government, has gone a step further, claiming that the new directive would lead to a reign of terror against the Dalits.
In a letter to state home secretary on Wednesday, Choudhury demanded an explanation on the ground that when acts like the Arms act, TADA and the Excise act were allegedly misused, the government did not issue similar directives.
He wondered what was the urgency to issue the order.