There has been a gradual rise in the number of atrocities against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in Bihar in the last four years, police records say giving a lie to the government's claim that they have been checked.
In fact, atrocities against SC/STs have not only increased during the past four years, but also 2,766 such cases are pending disposal in different courts till September, 2008.
The data received from police headquarters state that atrocities against SC/STs have seen an upward trend since 2005 -- the year in which the National Democratic Alliance government, led by Nitish Kumar, assumed power.
While altogether 2006 fresh cases were lodged till September, 2008, 1932 cases were registered in 2007, 1729 in 2006 and 1572 in 2005, the year in which the NDA government led by Nitish Kumar assumed power.
The government recently claimed that the introduction of the speedy trial mechanism and putting emphasis on the development of Dalits through various measures, including setting up of a Mahadalit Commission, have reduced the number of cases of atrocities against Dalits.
Till September, last year, 2006 cases, including seven of murder, 20 cases of rape, 22 of grievous injury and 14 of arson, and 110 cases under the Atrocities on SC/ST Prevention) Act, 1989 were lodged.
So far as disposal of pending cases is concerned, the rate is far from satisfactory.
There were a total of 5089 cases till September, 2008, including 3083 cases, that were carried forward from the previous years and 2006 fresh cases registered last year. Of this, only 2323 could be disposed of till September, 2008 and 2766 were pending till that time.
The number of SC/ST atrocities cases that were pending disposal in 2007 was 3083, while the figure for 2006 was 5097 and for the previous year it was 4510.
After taking over the reins in Bihar, the Nitish Kumar government introduced a speedy trial mechanism for disposal of such cases showing positive results in 2007 when the highest number of 3,946 cases were disposed of -- 2804 more than the previous year.
But after that there was a marked decline with only 2323 cases disposed of till September, 2008 and 2766 are still pending.
The state's Mahadalit Commission chairman, Vishwanath Rishi, feels the police should pay special attention to the disposal of cases of atrocities on dalits due to the piling of a large number of cases awaiting disposal.
''Instead of registering cases of criminal offences targeting dalits under various sections of IPC, all these should be lodged under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 so that the victims are able to get adequate compensation and the accused harsher punishment,'' Rishi told PTI.
As per the 2001 Census, the population of SC/ST in undivided Bihar was 15.7 per cent, but after the bifurcation of the state in 2000 the population of scheduled castes stood at 1.2 crore whereas the tribals constituted a minuscule nine lakh.
The NDA government in the state had formed a Mahadalit Commission on September 20, 2007 bringing 20 castes out of a total 22 dalit castes in its purview for their social and educational uplift.
The government left only two castes-Paswan and Mochi-out of the Commission's ambit attracting criticism.
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes in October, 2008 had held the Mahadalit panel unconstitutional, saying the state did not have power to categorise among Scheduled Castes.