Lucknow- In a relentless pursuit of justice and equality for the marginalized, the Dalit Dignity and Justice Centre stands as a beacon of hope in the heart of Bundelkhand, the most backward area of Uttar Pradesh. This initiative, launched on the anniversary of Bahujan Ideologue Manyawara Kanshiram, is a powerful response to the ongoing caste-based atrocities against the Dalit community and other vulnerable sections.
Bundelkhand is the most backward area of Uttar Pradesh. The cases of Dalit atrocities are also quite common in the region. However, the victims of harassment are often unable to secure justice, mainly due to unaffordable legal costs and the time it takes. Considering this issue in mind, Bundelkhand Dalit Adhikar Manch, an organization working at the grassroots level for Dalits, has launched the "Dalit Dignity and Justice Centre."
The grassroots organization chose the death anniversary of Bahujan Ideologue Manyawara Kanshiram to launch the organization. The event saw a gathering of writers, academicians, journalists, and advocates, all of whom remembered Bahujan Ideologue Kanshiram on his death anniversary.
Advocate Kuldeep Kumar Baudh, the founder and convener of Bundelkhand Dalit Adhikar Manch, said at the launch, "We aim to help every victim of atrocity get justice, as cases of Dalit atrocity/harassment, POCSO, etc., are increasing. Very few cases are registered, and the victims have to wander in search of justice. This center would help such people. Kanshiram started Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangarsh Samiti in 1981, and similarly, this platform aims at fighting caste-based atrocities inflicted on the Dalit community and other vulnerable sections. Therefore, there can be no better day to pay tribute to the great leader by dedicating a legal cell to address the issues."
The members of the center shared their experiences while working with different vulnerable sections of society. Coordinator Rashmi Verma said that most of the victims of violence are women and girls who have to run around for justice. While Advocate Nandkumar discussed the rights of laborers and the exploitation they are subjected to. Rukshana Mansuri, Sachin, and Jyoti Yadav shared their experiences while working with manual scavengers and emphasized the dire need for such platforms to raise the voice of oppressed communities.
It will involve the serialization and documentation of cases in the region and the collection of newspaper reports published on atrocities in the region.
Free legal aid will be provided in cases of atrocities related to crimes against women, POCSO, and Dalit atrocities, etc.
A sensitization campaign will be carried out by the center at the level of villages and panchayats to increase awareness among Dalits and other weaker sections regarding cases.
Fact-finding will be conducted in serious cases of atrocities.
A panel of more than 25 lawyers will review the cases for litigation in district courts, high courts, and the Supreme Court and will also approach officials in the administration, such as the social welfare officer and District Magistrate, to get the rules and regulations related to Dalit rights implemented.
Speaking to The Mooknayak, Kuldeep Kumar Baudh said, "It has been observed that most cases of atrocities don't make it to the police station, and the FIR is not registered. Most of the cases don't even make it to the newspaper. Even if an FIR is lodged, the second challenge before the victims is to find a dedicated lawyer belonging to their marginalized sections. The lawyers, most of the time, belong to the caste of the accused, and hence, they don't pursue the case properly.
Pointing to the relevance of the name of the center, Dalit Dignity and Justice Centre, he said that it has been observed that the victims are forced to reach a compromise with the perpetrators of the crime due to pressure and the fact that they don't want to get into legal hassles. We want to ensure that the victims get justice on their terms, i.e., with dignity, and therefore, the name Dalit Dignity and Justice Centre was found appropriate."