Recently appointed chairman of the NationalCommission for Scheduled Castes chief P L Punia on Wednesday pointedly accused the Mayawati government of being "insensitive" to the plight of Dalits in Uttar Pradesh.
"It was unfortunate that despite being elected on the strength of the Dalit vote, the Uttar Pradesh government had failed to take any effective steps to prevent atrocities on the downtrodden communities," he told mediapersons in Lucknow.
This was Punia's first visit to the state after being nominated as chairman of the commission that is meant to look into the well-being of Dalits.
A retired IAS office of the UP cadre, who enjoyed close proximity to chief minister Mayawati during her two earlier stints when he was her principal secretary, Punia developed serious differences with her after he chose to join the Congress party and got elected as a Member of Parliament from Barabanki reserved Lok Sabha seat.
Flaying the state government for the rising crime and atrocities against Dalits, he said, "Several incidents of rape and killing of Dalits were reported over the past six months in districts like Muzaffarnagar, Basti, Kannauj and Hathras, but somehow the state government chose to turn a blind eye to those incidents."
Charging the Mayawati government of not even caring to reply to Dalit related issues raised by the commission, Punia sought to point out, "Recent experiences have shown that the state government invariably does not care to even give a reply whenever the commission seeks its comments on a reported incident of atrocities on Dalits."
He felt, "That was a clear reflection of the Mayawati government's apathy towards harassment and oppression of Dalits even though the government proclaims to be aggressively engaged in protecting the rights of Dalits and downtrodden communities."
Punia was also sore at the state machinery's dilly-dallying on FIRs and complaints lodged by Dalits against those involved in oppressing them.
"Our objective is to ensure that the investigations in the complaint made by Dalits are completed within time bound period of one month from the date of registration of the FIR," he said, while stressing, "and that would also enable to courts to dispense quick justice by commencing the hearing in such cases within 90 days.''