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Oppn leaders meet President on SC/ST Act issue


Press Trust of India New Delhi
Leaders of various opposition parties led by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi today raised their concerns on dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act with President Ram Nath Kovind and sought his intervention, saying the apex court order had created "a feeling of insecurity among the Dalits".
"We met the President on the dilution of the SC/ST Act... The atrocities (on dalits and tribals) are increasing and the Act is being diluted. The President was quite positive and supportive," Gandhi told reporters after he along with leaders of BSP, NCP, CPI-M, SP, DMK and other parties handed over a memorandum to Kovind this evening.
Asked if the President had given them any assurance, Gandhi said, "He will assess and will take relevant action."

BSP leader Satish Chandra Misra said the delegation told the president that the issue was not represented effectively by the government and that is why this situation had arisen.
"We told the president that effective representation was not done in the issue and have made a demand that a review petition be filed in the apex court," said Misra.
The memorandum said "there is a great unease and a feeling of insecurity amongst the members of Dalit community and other oppressed classes" after the judgement and "if immediate steps are not taken by the government, then we are afraid, this may turn into something not less than a national disaster".
CPI-M leader T K Rangarajan said his party has been asking that a review petition be filed in the apex court and hoped the President will take remedial action.
"We think he (President) will take remedial action on this and justice will be done," he said, adding that if the Act is diluted, it will embolden the offenders.
Another leader said that the conviction rate under the Act was low as such, and the Dalit community was shocked by the court order as it would create more hurdles in their path to seek justice.
"The Supreme Court ruling diluting provisions of arrest in the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act comes in the backdrop of growing atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across India," Gandhi said on the Twitter earlier.
Various parties have been protesting on the issue and have demanded that the government seek a review of the Supreme Court judgement or bring amendments in the law.
The memorandum submitted by the parties attacked the central government and said the SC judgement comes at a time when Dalits in the entire country are facing a distressful situation and many families stand devastated because of the atrocities being committed "in every nook and corner of the country".
It alleged that it is surprising that instead of fighting for the rights of Dalits, as claimed by the Union Government, at the time of hearing of the case before the Supreme Court, the Centre stated that anticipatory bail could be allowed in cases of atrocities against Dalits, if no prima facie case was made out.
"This shows a double-faced character of the present government, one inside the courts and the other outside, before public and media," the memorandum alleged.
It also said that the problems are not restricted to one particular state and have assumed a national character. This coupled with the recent judgement pronounced by the Supreme Court shall further embolden the perpetrators and atrocities against Dalits will rise even further.
"Sir, we therefore, through this petition beseech your immediate intervention in this regard and take steps to help the Dalits of our country, to tide over the existing crisis," the memorandum said.

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First Published: Mar 28 2018 | 8:21 PM IST

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