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Panellists feel that people should not swayed by remarks meant to destabilise peaceful relations among all communities; also earlier law was fine even if ballot considerations perennially persist

A bill to overturn a Supreme Court order which had laid down safeguards in the SC/ST law was introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Modi government looks certain of rolling back the SC order.  APN’s popular debate show Mudda raised the SC/ST bill issue. Anchorperson Anant Tyagi posed questions to panellists including BJP’s Bhaskar Ghose, dalit leader Dr Anup Shramik and APN consultant Govind Pant Raju.

Ghose said: “The Supreme Court order violates the spirit of the Constitution. Look at the spate of lynchings. People are taking the law into their own hands. Dalits need to be protected against atrocities, which is why the BJP is trying to overturn the SC order.”

Raju said: “There is no doubt the Dalit community needs to be uplifted.”

Ghose said: “The SLP filed negates the court order. Justice AK Goel was appointed to study the SC/ST issue, and the government is taking these recommendations seriously. In lynching cases, the atrocities happen all out in the open and action needs to be taken. On the other hand, domestic violence is a private affair that needs an investigation of a different kind. The public gets affected in lynching cases. This government works for petty labourers and farmers of the country, and is all for development. The earlier law was perfectly fine.”

Dr Shramik said: “The problem is that till the collegium system is in place in India, biased judgments are likely to happen. Right now 90 percent are non-Dalits in the official system, which is why anti-Dalit decisions are taken. And now, in view of the forthcoming polls, the government is taking up the Dalit issue. ”

Anant then asked if this means that allegations are levelled at the SC and the constitution as well.

Raju said: “Such remarks are meant to stoke the fire, and insult the judiciary. If anyone feels that a certain community is being isolated or targeted by the government or the SC, that’s a direct allegation on the SC and the Constituition.”

Ghose said: ”Dalits are in bad shape, problem of unemployment is rampant, and we are trying to correct the social equilibrium.  However, Dr Shramik is wrong that Dalits are denied jobs.”

Anant asked if the right to equality does not help in such cases.

Raju said: ”I don’t see that people are denied their due just because they come from a particular community, though personal stories can be of all kinds. Today’s India is not such that people are denied their right just because they belong to a particular religion or community.”

Shramik said:”BJP is not doing anything new. I feel this is only a show-off. Even if they come out with a revised SC/ST Act, it is no obligation to us.”

Ghose said: “The Modi government has been working for farmer and Dalit causes. The government has to go about doing its work in the proper format. “

Shramik said:”Dalit netas languish in jail for months… and non-Dalits roam about freely.”

Raju said: “It is a sad commentary of the times that Dalit leaders work only for themselves, whether Paswan or Mayawati. The situation remains the same.”

Anant then asked if the creamy layer should be denied quota.

Shramik said: “Reservation is based on social reasons, not economic. Don’t talk of creamy layer, but cover the backlog in reservations.”

Raju said:”Please note that Mayawati became CM due to media, and she was not isolated just because she comes from a particular community.”

Shramik said: ”Why are Dalits only targeted in lynchings?”

Anant rounded off the debate by saying that people should not get swayed by statements meant to destabilise peace.

—Compiled by Niti Singh Bhandari

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