Friday, February 23, 2024

Hemant Soren And The Dual Edged Sword of the SC/ST Act

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Hemant Soren used the SC/ST Act against ED to enact his vengeance! Why? Because the biggest taboo word in Bharat is ‘Caste’! The British distorted the Sanatani Varna system to form a Casteist understanding of India’s societal structures. Many historic wrongs were committed in the name of ‘Jaat,’ ‘Jaati,’ or ‘Caste.’ Not indigenous to the Sindhu-Saraswati Civilization, the caste system permeates into most aspects of Bharatiya social interactions.

Independent India decided to correct these social wrongs by giving birth to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act or the SC/ST Act. It stands as a bulwark against caste-based discrimination and violence in Bharat. However, the latest news from Jharkhand showcases how this measure to protect the weaker segment of society has become a tool of vendetta! Let’s talk about how Hemant Soren’s FIR against ED officials is the ugly side of the SC/ST Act! 

Hemant Soren’s Misuse of SC/ST Act?!

Decades of neglect and suppression is the story of the SC/ST segment of Bharat’s society. To help this segment regain its voice, the SC/ST Act was the government’s way to safeguard the rights and dignity of Dalits and Adivasis. This milestone act was significant in the country’s quest for social justice. However, recently Bharat’s public saw the misuse of this Act by a select few to take revenge on innocents. Case in point, FIRs against ED officials under the SC/ST Act by Jharkhand ex-CM Hemant Soren. 

ED arrested Hemant Soren in relation to a ₹ 70,000-crore land scam! He filed FIRs against the ED officials in charge of the investigations. Does this not underscore the misuse of the SC/ST Act for ulterior motives?? The ED’s sole goal was to probe into the land scam, uncover illicit activities, and discover financial impropriety. Thus, the FIR filed under the SC/ST Act against its officials shows how this Act is exploitable for political ends or personal vendetta. Invocation of caste bias in a scam investigation shows complete misuse of political power, if not the law.

Is this fair to those in need of protection under the SC/ST Act? Will the public ever have faith in SC/ST victims if politicians misuse this Act? 

Shobna Narlikar’s Case – Abusing The SC/ST Act? 

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Instances of the SC/ST Act being wielded as a weapon in personal vendettas or to settle scores are not new. In 2013, BHU’s professor Shobna Narlikar accused her colleague of inciting caste bias and rage against her. The investigations revealed that the lady was using the SC/ST Act to settle her grudges against a coworker. In 2023 Shobna Narlikar, now HOD of BHU’s Journalism and Communication department, retook the familiar route of misuse of power and the Act.

She threatened students with the SC/ST Act for not aligning with her policies or rules. Any request for reform was allegedly met with abuses and a promise of a ruined future. Currently, the students are still waiting for respite from the University Dean after prolonged protests. Is Shobna Narlikar’s caste a tool she uses to get even with colleagues and students? Does she not understand that caste discrimination is the reality of many? Why does she choose to cite ‘caste bias’ to carry out her revenge?

Points to Ponder

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Unrelated to its purpose, from road rage to academic disputes, the Act is invoked in a plethora of situations. The cases of Hemant Soren and BHU’s HOD serve as a stark reminder of the way negative elements misuse the SC/ST Act. The legal framework to address atrocities against Dalits is a requirement. However, the rampant misuse of the SC/ST Act by people like Hemant Soren underscores the need to prevent its exploitation.

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While atrocities against Dalits remain a harsh reality and dark history, the Act has many loopholes for the wicked to exploit. The government needs to restrict the indiscriminate application of this precious Act. Do not let miscreants dilute the noble objectives for which the Act came into being.

Currently, the SC/ST Act stands in the quagmire of misuse and politicization. Let Bharat’s lawmakers reshape it to be the weapon of change, not the specter of manipulation! The need of the hour is to protect marginalized communities while preventing abuse of the law. The SC/ST Act as the core of social justice and equality should not be the trumpet of injustice. Let Bharat march forward on the path of progress in true unity and equality. Hopefully, policymakers and stakeholders will ensure misuse, similar to that of Hemant Soren, of the SC/ST Act never happens again!

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