Following a complaint from the secretary of state SC/ST Youth Council Mr Haladhar Sethi before the National SC/ST Commission stating that state government did nothing to protect SC/ST from oppression, the Director General of Police of Orissa Manmohan Praharaj and SC/ST Secretary Santosh Kumar Sarangi appeared before the court of the Commission, presided over by the the chairman of the commission Dr P. L. Punia to explain the steps taken to prevent atrocities against the backward classes.
The meeting, which ran to more than an hour was necessitated because the persecution of these classes haver gone up in the state in recent times. Untouchability is still rampant in the state. Thousands of cases are pending at the courts against atrocities all over the state. More than 150 cases have been registered every month in the 25 out of 30 districts of the state.
There is little that the police can do with too few officers of or above the rank of DSP to head the investigations. Also, the state is not following Government of India's guidelines for the appointment SC/ST advocates in the government panel.
Though the State Government has plans of setting up three special courts at the district headquarters of Sambalpur, Balesore and Cuttack, they have remained plans with no action taken for almost a year now.
Earlier chairman P L Punia had summoned Orissa chief secretary and police chief over the issue ofdalits not being allowed inside the temple at Puri. At that time, he had summoned the two officials to Delhi to explain the situation. With the situation turning controversial, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had said he would look into the matter.
Thereafter, Patnaik had also directed the District Collectors to hold meetings regularly. The Government also decided to establish a legal aid cell at every block headquarters to facilitate SC and ST people lodge their complaints and provide legal assistance to them free of cost under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Unfortunately all these steps too have been more on government papers than in actuality.
After Tuesday's meeting, the DGP has assured that the state will implement the recommendations of the Commission at the earliest possibility. What remains to be seen is whether this time will be any more effective than all the other times such assurances have been made.