Fact-Check: 48% Spike in SC/ST Atrocities Cases Exposes BJP’s Misleading Guarantees

The report evaluates the claims made by the NDA government regarding social justice and compares them to the actual outcomes achieved during their decade-long tenure.
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Representational ImagePachamama Alliance

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is fighting the 2024 Lok Sabha elections “Modi ki Guarantee”. Multiple organizations have now come up to rubbish the claims made by the incumbent.

On May 2, two groups, the Ambedkar Reading Circle in Bengaluru and Bahutva Karnataka, released a report titled ‘Guarantee Check: BJP’s Hollow Promises of Social Justice’. The report assesses the assertions and actual outcomes of social justice during the NDA government's 10-year tenure. 

The BJP has consistently asserted its dedication to uplifting marginalized communities and ensuring social justice. However, upon closer examination, it becomes evident that the party’s actions have fallen short of rhetoric.

Instead, there has been a significant undermining of the rights and welfare of the people belonging to the Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and the Other Backward Class (OBC).

This report scrutinizes the BJP’s key promises from their manifestos of 2014 and 2019, juxtaposing them with factual data. The findings reveal a disturbing trend of neglect, discriminatory policies and the perpetuation of deep-rooted caste-based prejudices.

Regarding the prevention of atrocities, the BJP pledged the highest priority to ensuring the security and prevention of atrocities against SC/ST/OBC communities. However, reality paints a different picture.

Under BJP rule, there has been a staggering 48% increase in cases registered under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. This figure rose from an average of 39,000 cases per year in 2010-2012 to 67,646 cases in 2022, amounting to 188 cases per day.

Additionally, there was a concerning 49.87% surge in rape incidents against Dalit women from 2015 to 2019. Despite these escalating incidents of violence, there has been a glaring lack of adequate funds allocated for access to justice for these communities.

In terms of fund allocation and utilization, the BJP claimed to ensure the proper utilization of funds for SC, ST and OBC communities, aiming to complement social justice with economic justice and political empowerment.

However, reality tells a different story. There has been a significant shortfall in both allocation and utilization of funds intended for marginalized communities.

For instance, while the due share, as per NITI Aayog, was Rs 5.23 lakh crores for SCs from 2015 to 2020, only Rs 2.55 lakh crores were actually allocated. Similarly, for STs, the allocation in 2023-24 was merely 2.7% compared to the due 8.6%.

Furthermore, a substantial portion of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs’ allocation for 2023-24, amounting to 39%, remained unspent. Additionally, a concerning 56.5% of the funds were diverted to non-targeted schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana.

Regarding manual scavenging, the BJP claimed to be dedicated to eliminating this practice and ensuring the safety of safai karamcharis (sanitation workers). However, the actual situation presents a stark contrast. Despite these claims, one-third of districts have failed to eradicate manual scavenging practices.

Moreover, there have been instances of misreporting of deaths attributed to manual scavenging during sewer and septic tank cleaning activities. 

Rehabilitation efforts have been dismal, with only 2.7% of identified manual scavengers receiving capital subsidy from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Regarding identity, provisions and representation, the BJP claimed to ensure constitutional provisions for SC, ST and OBC communities, along with proper representation and opportunities.

However, the reality presents significant challenges. There have been notable delays in releasing caste census data, and the enumeration of OBC communities has been refused. The marginalization of Dalit Christians and Muslims remains unaddressed.

Furthermore, there has been a trend towards contractualization of caste-ordained occupations. Additionally, there are massive vacancies in key positions - 9 ministries had 58% of reserved vacancies unfilled, and 45 central universities had 42% of reserved teaching posts vacant.

In terms of all-round development for Scheduled Tribes, the BJP claimed to promote social and political empowerment, ensure the rights of forest dwellers, and focus on education, health, and skills for tribal communities. However, reality reveals significant shortcomings.

There has been a grossly inadequate allocation of funds for tribal welfare schemes. Additionally, there has been rampant rejection of Forest Rights Act claims, with nearly 50% of claims to individual forest rights either rejected or pending.

Moreover, there has been neglect of tribal education, as evidenced by only 401 out of 740 planned Eklavya Model Schools being functional. Poor tribal healthcare indicators persist, including an infant mortality rate of 41 for ST compared to 28 overall and 65% of ST women being anaemic.

Regarding the eradication of untouchability, while the BJP claimed to be committed to this cause at all levels, the reality paints a different picture. There have been blatant instances of discrimination and casteist treatment of President Murmu and other ministers and party members from marginalized communities.

The continued influence of casteist ideologies within the party is evident, with 48% of BJP MPs having RSS affiliation and enjoying three times the ministerial prospects. Furthermore, there have been rampant instances of casteist slurs by BJP leaders against Dalits, tribals, and OBCs.

Beena Pallical, the General Secretary of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, highlighted the analysis conducted by NCDHR on the budgets of the NDA government.

She emphasized that while the budget allocated to SC/ST communities may appear substantial, several issues persist. Firstly, it falls short of the guidelines set by NITI Aayog. Secondly, funds are often allocated for schemes that do not specifically target SC/ST communities. Thirdly, there is significant under-utilization of these funds.

Dr. Rahul Sonpimple, founder of the All-India Independent Scheduled Castes Association, said the BJP government and the ruling class are “transitioning from focusing on numerical data to shaping narratives.”

They aim to construct a narrative suggesting that there is no discontent among marginalized communities. Dr. Sonpimple emphasized that “the past decade has demonstrated a lack of social mobility for Dalits and Adivasis under this government's leadership.”

A. Narasimha Murthy, the state convenor of the Slum Janandalona, Karnataka, criticized the Modi government’s approach to housing initiatives in India.

“Instead of fulfilling their promise to make India a hut-free nation by constructing homes, they have resorted to demolishing them using heavy machinery like JCBs.”

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