Ans. This Act was framed in 1989 in response to demands made by Dalits and others that the government must take seriously the ill treatment and humiliation Dalits and tribal groups face in an everyday sense.
Rathnam refused to perform the ritual. Rathnam’s refusal angered both the powerful castes in the village and some families from his own community. The powerful castes decided to teach Rathnam a lesson. His community was ordered to ostracise him and his family, and everyone was told that no one should speak or do any work for them or with them. One night some men entered their part of the village and set his hut on fire. Rathnam, then went to file a case in the local police station under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
Ans. Assertive: An assertive person or group is one that can express themselves and their views strongly.
Confront: To come face to face or to challenge someone or something. In the context of this chapter, this refers to groups challenging their marginalisation.
Dispossessed: To possess is to own something and to be dispossessed is to have to give up ownership or to give up authority.
Ostracise: This means to exclude or banish an individual or a group. In the context of this chapter, it refers to a social boycott of an individual and his family.
Policy: A stated course of action that provides direction for the future, sets goals to be achieved or lays out principles or guidelines to be followed and acted upon. In this chapter, we have referred to government policies. But other institutions like schools, companies, etc. also have policies.
Ans. The Act distinguishes several levels of crimes.
i. Firstly, it lists modes of humiliation that are both physically horrific and morally reprehensible and seeks to punish those who (i) force a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to drink or eat any inedible or obnoxious substance (ii) forcibly removes clothes from the person of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or parades him or her naked or with painted face or body or commits any similar act which is derogatory to human dignity.
ii. Secondly, it lists actions that dispossess Dalits and Adivasis of their meagre resources or which force them into performing slave labour. Thus, the Act sets out to punish anyone who wrongfully occupies or cultivates any land owned by, or allotted to, a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or get the land allotted to him transferred
iii. At another level, the Act recognizes that crimes against Dalit and tribal women are of a specific kind and, therefore, seeks to penalise anyone who assaults or uses force on any woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe with intent to dishonour her.
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