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Gujarat Minister seeks immediate compensation to SC/ST victims of atrocities from the Government of India

Crime rate against SCs only 1.7, Gujarat state leads in welfare, rehabilitation schemes -Shri Fakirbhai Vaghela

New Delhi: Gujarat Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Fakirbhai Vaghela today said that the State of Gujarat is fully committed for effective implementation of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocity Act and the Protection of Civil Rights. The rate of crimes against Scheduled Castes measured in the number of crimes per one lakh SC population is only 1.7 in Gujarat against National crime rate of 2.8, he added.

He was speaking at the Conference of Home Ministers and Ministers of Social Justice onthe effective implementation of SC/ST POA 1989 held in New Delhi. The conference was chaired by Union Home Minister Shri P. Chidambaram in which Gujarat Tribal Development Minister Shri Mangubhai Patel was also present.

Addressing the conference, Shri Fakirbhai Vaghela said that the fruit-bearing measures taken by the State Government have resulted in making Gujarat one of the few states with the lowest crime rate against Scheduled Castes. While Gujarat stands at 1.7 against the national crime rate of 2.8, larger states like Rajasthan accounts for 7.4, Andhra Pradesh (5.1), Maharashtra (4.7), Karnataka (4.3), Odisha (4.2), Bihar (3.6) and Uttar Pradesh at 3.2.

Shri Vaghela apprised that the Government of Gujarat has made strenuous efforts in providing speedy justice and rehabilitation of the victims of atrocity which include training to the police and judicial authorities for sensitization and fair dealing of the cases of atrocities on SC/ ST. About 330 social education camps at the block level and workshops at the district level have been organized by the Social Justice and Empowerment Department during the last three years for the awareness of the population belonging to Scheduled Castes, he said, adding the State Government has also sanctioned 14 Awareness Centres in districts to NGOs for the year 2011-12 and financial assistance is provided to them for creating awareness about the provisions of PCR and POA Acts.

The Minister also announced that the observations and other relevant guidelines issued by the Hon'ble Supreme Court and High Court are being implemented by the district police authorities. The State Government has also introduced various schemes in order to ensure abolition of the untouchability like the Dr. Savita Ambedkar Assistance Scheme for Inter-Caste Marriage where one of the partners belongs to the Scheduled Caste and an amount of Rs. 50,000 is provided to the couple. In addition, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Award of Rs.1 lakh to an individual, Mahatma Gandhi Award of Rs. 1 lakh to an institute and other individual awards are given for carrying out stupendous work relating to the abolition of untouchability from the state.

Shri Vaghela said that the State Government has also adopted the enhanced rates of relief for victims of atrocity notified by the Central Government w.e.f. 1stApril 2012 and has conveyed the revised rates to the District Magistrates and all concerned officers and NGOs.

Shri Vaghela stated that the State had forwarded about seventy one cases to the Dr. Ambedkar Foundation for grant of additional compensation to the victims of the atrocities. He requested that these proposals be cleared expeditiously so that additional relief could be provided the victims of atrocities.

Suggesting certain amendments to the POA and PCR Acts for their more effective implementation, Shri Vaghela said that officers of the Social Justice and Empowerment Department after performing due enquiry in an incident be authorized for the initiation of cases relating to public order, especially bonds, externment and collective fines. There should be grant of relief to the victims of serious crimes of atrocities immediately, rather than waiting for charge-sheeting or conviction, he added.

Shri Sanjay Prasad, Principal Secretary (Social Justice and Empowerment), Shri Deepak Swarup , Additional Director General of Police and other senior officersfrom State also attended the conference.

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