News & Events

Workshop on the Prevention of Atrocities Act Back

Human Rights and Training Unit joined hands with Reach Law and Ananya Trust to organize a workshop on the SC/ST Act for Dalit lawyers, Dalit activists and others working with or for the cause of Dalit issues. There were about 70 participants, who attended this two-day workshop held at ISI-B on 14th and 15th of July, 2018.

The workshop was inaugurated by Mr. N Venkatesh, one of the senior leaders of Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (DSS) who has contributed greatly for the protection of rights of Dalits and has provided extraordinary support to victims in cases of atrocities committed against them. He inaugurated the program by beating tamate, thereby declaring the workshop open.

Dr Fr Alwyn Prakash D'souza, head of Human Rights cell, Indian Social Institute, Bangalore, in his keynote address presented the need for enhancing our knowledge, understanding the challenges and need to evolve new strategies in protection of Human Rights of Dalits and the need for attitudinal change in our approach towards protection of Human Rights of Dalits.

Mr. N Venkatesh delivered a forceful inaugural address presenting the distance travelled in protection of rights of Dalits, the successes, the failures of feeling of despondency and of hope and the changes that are taking place in the institutions of the society. He emphasised the need to strengthen the movement against atrocities being committed on Dalits and Tribals. He said this was not only the time to fight against atrocities on Dalits and tribals, but also for alliances with marginalized, stigmatized and oppressed communities' movement and need for broadening the scope of movements.

Delivering the presidential address, Mr. B T Venkatesh, Managing partner, Reach Law, former State Public Prosecutor, High Court of Karnataka, reiterated and explained the concerns and needs of the SC/ST communities and the need for building alliances and movements for the assertion of Human Rights of Dalits and tribals in general and particularly in Karnataka.

In the second session of the day, Dr Vaddagre Nagarajaiah described the struggles and denial of basic Human Rights of untouchables and the challenges faced by Dalits and tribals in every sphere of life how some communities who enjoy natural privileges and the challenges and discrimination that Dalits and tribals face in every sphere and walk of life.

Ms. Manoranjini, a Human Rights lawyer, presented the evolution of the caste system and the harm that it has caused to large sections of society that were pushed outside the social structures of the society and dehumanised over a period of two thousand years. She extensively quoted from Vedas to Manusmriti, Kautilya's Arthashastra, philosophy and ideology of Buddha, Basavanna, Phule and great efforts of B.R Ambedkar.

Dr Bala Gurumurthy, presented the meek attitude of the Dalits and tribals that is due to centuries of oppression and he expressed concerns over denial of every possible right to the extremely marginalised nomadic tribes of India.

Mr. B T Venkatesh, narrated the jurisprudential history of the SC/ST Atrocities Act. He presented the facts of the changing nature of appreciation of the act by the judiciary resulting in denial of protection provided under the act by selective reading down of the provisions of the act. He suggested that the most important change would be to include the act in IXth schedule of the Constitution.

Mr. Shivamanithan, a Lawyer and Human Rights activist, expressed concerns of institutional apathy and institutional inefficiency in protection of rights of Dalits.

Concluding, the first day of the workshop, Ms. Sadhana Abraham, a Lawyer and Human Rights activist presented the issues and challenges and the dual marginalisation of Dalit and tribal women within their own communities and oppression from upper caste/class communities.

On the second day we had eminent personalities like Dr Kripa Alva, Chairperson of Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child rights (KSCPCR), Dr. L Hanumanthaiah, public intellectual and Member of Parliament and Mr. C. Jagadish, Advocate, to speak to the participants.

Dr. L Hanumanthaiah expressed concerns and the feeling of despondency among the masses belonging to SC/ST, many of whom feel alienated even though we have crossed 70 years after attaining independence. He said that the state has not been effective in implementation of statutes that provide for protection of SC/ST members. He stated that, so long as the oppressed communities like SC/ST communities are aware of their rights and seek, demand effective action changes will be difficult to come by. He demanded every participant to take the message to the remote corners of the state and fight for the rights of Dalits.

Mr. C. Jagadish spoke about the menace of using fake caste certificate by the upper caste people to get unfair advantages. While referring to the hurdles in the way of protecting SC/ST interests in legal context, he quoted Justice Krishna Iyer “Reservation is very much on lips than in action”.

Fr Martin, Head of Labour and Migration Unit, was the chief guest for the valedictory program on 15th July. He spoke of his experiences of working with the marginalized communities and he brought to light the situation of Dalits and minorities languishing in our jails. Mr. Mariswamy, Member, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPR) and Head of Ananya Education & Empowerment Trust proposed vote of thanks. Mr John Baptist D’Souza, program coordination with Ananya Trust compered the program.

Ms Kanchana, Asst in the Human Rights and Training Unit, took care of the registration and other formalities. The workshop was interactive in nature and every participant participated with enthusiasm and expressed their concerns and the challenges they faced in their efforts for providing protection and succour to persons belonging to SC/ST communities, who faced atrocities from upper caste and upper class communities.