Dalits

Plea made before SC to end atrocities against Dalits and minorities

October 24, 2016 09:14 AM
Dalits protest aginst Cow vigilantes

New Delhi: A Supreme Court bench led by Justice Dipak Misra on Friday asked the Centre and several State government to respond to a PIL petition seeking to declare cow vigilantes “extortionists” and put an end to their atrocities against Dalits and minority communities.

The petition pointed out that some State governments even provide cow vigilantes with identity cards. It highlighted the Gujarat Animal Prevention Act, 1956 which deems that all who act to protect cows are deemed public servants and no legal action shall be instituted against them, the petition contended. It contended that cow vigilantes groups should be punished under various provisions of Indian Penal Code as well as under Schedule Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The Supreme Court's intervention comes shortly after investigating officials found there was no evidence of cow slaughter by Mohammed Akhlaq, who was beaten and lynched last year on suspicion of storing beef in his house at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh.

The PIL petition was filed in the Supreme Court by entrepreneur and activist Tehseen S. Poonawalla immedately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had denounced anti-social elements in the garb of gau rakshaks for spreading violence against the down-trodden and destroying the delicate social fabric.

“The Dalits who were attacked at Una or at East Godavri were only doing their traditional profession of skinning the already dead cow to provide leather to tanneries... the menace caused by the so-called cow protection groups is spreading fast to every nook and corner of the country and is creating disharmony among various communities and castes,” the PIL petition, filed through advocate Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi contended.

State’s  Provide identity cardsIt contended that cow vigilantes groups should be punished under various provisions of Indian Penal Code as well as under Schedule Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The petition pointed out that some State governments even provide cow vigilantes with identity cards. It highlighted the Gujarat Animal Prevention Act, 1956 which deems that all who act to protect cows are deemed public servants and no legal action shall be instituted against them, the petition contended.

The case is the same with the Maharashtra Animal Prevention Act, 1956 and the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act. Further, the Gujarat Animal Prevention (Amendment) Rules, 2011, provide that authorised persons under these rules include those employed in gaushalas.

The petition accused these State governments of shirking their duty by remaining mute spectators while videos of atrocities committed by these groups are circulated on social media to become instrumental in spreading more tension and enmity.

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