May be it’s the Vemula effect. The Centre has asked states and union territories to implement the recently renewed Prevention of Atrocities against SCs/STs Act, which provides for stringent action against those committing atrocities in “letter and spirit”.The Centre had convened a meeting of state principal secretaries on Friday for the same. As per the the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015, enacted earlier this year, actions like tonsuring of head, moustache, or similar acts, which are derogatory to the dignity of members of SCs and STs, are treated as offences of atrocities.
The offences include denying access to irrigation facilities or forest rights, “garlanding with chappals”, compelling them to dispose or carry human or animal carcasses, or to dig graves, using or permitting manual scavenging, dedicating a SC or ST women as devadasi and abusing in caste name. The meeting, headed by MoSJ minister Thawarchand Gelhlot, analysed the related statistics from the states regarding the matter and decided to have a “more proper actions” on these lines.When asked whether these new regulations are an effect of the controversial suicide of SC student Rohit Vemula, an official with the ministry said the Act was not a direct result of it. “But, the focus is because of him,’’ he said.