Chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda on Saturday faced some embarrassing moments when he was prevented by agitating dalits from garlanding the statue of Dr BR Ambedkar on his 121st birth anniversary.
After three years of active follow up on the implementation of the SC/ST POA in the state ‘The Committee Monitoring and Strengthening SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in Karnataka- CMASK a citizens group had decided to draw the attention of the Chief Minister (CM) on virtual non-implementation of the Act by handing over a file on the same to the CM during the Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations on 14th April 2012 at Vidhan Souda.
The CM asked for dialogue before protest. The fact is that there have been numerous requests given in writing to the CM requesting an appointment since November 2011—for 5 months! The CM has not even acknowledged the letters, let alone given an appointment. Before masking falsehood with smiles, the CM should face the fact that his office is closed to Dalits 24x7.
As a final attempt, at 10am a group of about 150 Dalit activists joined the state level celebrations near the Ambedkar statue at Vidhan Souda. When they attempted to handover the file to the CM as a mark of protest, eight of them were arrested, beaten and taken to the Vidhan Souda police station at 10.30 am. Those arrested include (in order of arrest): Suguna, Pradeep, Mythrikar, Nagaraj, Yashoda, Siddaraju, Sunil and Prashant. They were neither allowed to handover the file nor garland Baba Saheb Ambedkar's statue.
Arrested by ACP Devraj Gowda they were taken to the Vidhan Souda police station where DCP Ravi Kant Gowda and CI Laxman Kumar made the enquiry. After dilly dallying, the police promised to release them without charge. Then the writer of the Vidhan Souda police station started harassing them for information. They were then to be taken to the judge to record their statements, but finally by afternoon they were brought to Ashok Nagar police station. Here the writer from Vidhan Souda police station again started harassing them asking them to sign blank bail applications. As one of them signed, others protested. The writer then threatened them with dire consequences and that they would be booked under serious sections. They were denied any food and water and their camera snatched away. Finally they were told that they were booked under sections: 143, 147 and 149, but they were not given a copy of the FIR. They were given a station bail and released at 5.30pm 14th April on the intervention of their advocate.
We once again call for the CM to implement the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, hold the SVMC meeting, remove investigating officers, advocates and Special Public Prosecutors with zero and near zero percent convictions, and ensure that the mandatory monitoring reports are tabled before the State and District Level Vigilance and Monitoring Committees. The shameful record of Karnataka with less than 5% convictions, and nil compliance on reports for the past three years, is a bolt on the state and its commitment to social justice.