New Delhi: After four members of a Dalit family in Maharashtra were killed by upper-caste villagers, it took the government more than a month to take action against the accused.
But it is not a case in isolation. Amuda was raped for a piece of land in Tamil Nadu. Krishnamma was raped while collecting firewood in Andhra Pradesh. Narbada was raped while crossing a river in Rajasthan.
These are only three of the hundreds of rape incidents against Dalits which make no headlines. There are no public campaigns for justice for them as Dalit oppression is a dark reality, especially in the rural hinterland where the society is still divided on the caste lines.
As per the National Crime Records Bureau, Uttar Pradesh reported the maximum number cases of crimes against Dalits followed by Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.
Historically, it was the upper castes, the followers of Manusmiriti, who poured lead in the Dalit ear.
The oppressor has changed with the changing times but not the oppressed, be it the 1997 Laxmanpur mass rape and massacre in Bihar or the lynching of five Dalits in Jajjhar in Haryana.
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati may have become a force to reckon with but that hasn't stopped the caste violence.
The divisive politics played by their own leaders has now created a new adversary - the Other Backward Classes.
"All this is not being done by the traditional zamidars or the Brahmins but there the conflict is between the SC and the OBC. It’s a fight for the land,” says the Acting Chairman of National SC/ST Commission, Fakirchand Vaghela.
The Government enacted the Prevention of Atrocities Act in 1989 and over the years it has proved to be a lameduck.
While out of the total cases, only one in five were disposed, out of the disposed cases, a mere 2.31 per cent ended up in conviction. The number of acquittals is six times more than the number of convictions.
Not just the police and the judicial system, even the media have failed to report the crimes against Dalits.
Even in the Kherlanji case, it took the otherwise alert press no less then five weeks to break the news.
It was only protests on the street and the blogosphere that brought the news out. Even then, the Bhotmange family's battle for justice has just begun.