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7th Annual District Conferences – Round Table Conferences (RTC)

Round Table Conferences (RTC) on violence against dalit women and girl children were organized in all the districts on the eve of 7th Annual District Conferences in the month of December 2012. The main objective of the RTC was to bring the victims, witnesses and the district officials of concerned departments on to the same platform in order to speed up access to justice, sensitize the officials, further strengthen advocacy & lobby and much visibility for the cause. The details of RTC district wise are as follows:

Hyderabad District (6th December):The RTC was held on 6th December 2012 at Press Club, Basheerbagh, Hyderabad. The dignitaries on the dais were Rama

Melkote – Adviser to Supreme Court on RTF, Raghunath – Advocate of High Court, Jhansi Geddam – Convener of DSS and it was presided over by Programme Manager of DSS. Programme Manager detailed about the campaign and the objective of RTC. 6 cases of violence on dalit women were narrated, issues pertaining to Anganwadi Centres, Government Schools, the findings of the study on the dalit girl children in specific to the district and Entitlement issues such as ration cards, pensions, houses etc were presented area wise.


Rama Melkote has said that the Rathayatra organized by DSS is different from that of to the other. All the Rathayatras create problems, whereas DSS campaign is trying to solve the issues. The government has to think about providing nutritious food to the children, but it is not doing so though we are pestering them. Hence instead of depending on the government, we only need to get organized and try to provide nutritious food to children and women and similarly see that quality education and mid-day-meals is implemented properly.


Raghunath has said that to mainstream dalit women and girl children we need to make them literates and strengthen them economically and sociologically. To put a stop to the incidents like Laximpet, the only possible way out is movements, therefore we all need to come together and fight for justice.

Raghunath has said that to mainstream dalit women and girl children we need to make them literates and strengthen them economically and sociologically. To put a stop to the incidents like Laximpet, the only possible way out is movements, therefore we all need to come together and fight for justice.


Convener of DSS has detailed about the overall scenario of Hyderabad and later women collective members Padmavathi, Manjula, Padma and Vijaya have briefed about the situation in their respective slums. The RTC was over with the vote of thanks by Sree Devi Co-ordinator of Hyderabad. The dignitaries rose the below mentioned points:

· Most of the dalit, adivasi children and women are suffering with mal-nutrition

· The government should see that the food grains in the godwns are made available to the poorest of the poor.

· The situation of anganwadi centres in the city is very worst.

· Most the schools and hostels don’t have basic amenities.

· The women and children lack protection in the city.


Ranga Reddy District (7th December): RTC of Ranga Reddy district was organized on 7th December at DIET Hall, Vikarabad. Victims and witnesses of 9 major cases of violence, violations in the anganwadi centres, government schools, social welfare hostels and the findings of the study on the dalit girl children in specific to the district and entitlements were presented before the jury. Baghya Laxmi District Coordinator of DSS presided over the meeting and dignitaries on the dais were Sakunthala-Supervisor of WCD, Satyavathi of RADS, Bandaiah of Raksha, Jagadesh of MSS, Naga Raju of Amma Organization, Narasimha of MVF, Krishna SC Cell of TRS and Jhansi Geddam Convener of DSS. The dignitaries rose the below mentioned points:


· The work done by DSS was applauded.

· Untouchability and Superstition are more in the district.

· The facilities are far better in jails than in the school.

· The implementation of the Acts is very awful

· Knowledge is important and meetings of this type give us abundant knowledge and information

· SC/ST (PoA) Act is a valuable weapon in the hands of the dalits and it should be utilized to the optimum level

· This platform has given us a scope to know the gaps from our side.

· The interaction with the victims and the jury kits enlightened us about the lack of coordination among the concerned departments and the delay caused in the payment of compensation, relief and rehabilitation.

· Hundreds of dalit women assembling for a common cause itself is appreciable and also sends a strong message for the concerned officials and a warning to the violators.




Guntur District (8th December): Round Table Conference was held in Conference hall of SC Corporation at Guntur. Victims and witnesses of 8 major cases of violence, violations in the anganwadi centres, government schools, social welfare hostels and the findings of the study on the dalit girl children in specific to this district and entitlements were presented. The dignitaries present were Y.Koteswara Rao Senior Advocate, Vasu from BC Akya Sangham, Chennakesavulu of Mala Mahanadu, B.Koteswara Rao DVMC Member, Jhansi Geddam, Prakash, Susanna, Sarala and Adilakshmi of DSS. The meeting was presided over by Adi Lakshmi Co-ordinator of DSS. The points raised by the dignitaries are as follows:


· DSS has guts required to organize the campaign.

· DSS has done the correct diagnosis of the society and is going in the right direction to set it right.

· It is a daring step and appreciable that the campaign is being ended at Laximpet.

· Liquor belt shops in the villages and slums are ruining the dalit and adivasi families.

· One of the main reasons is that we have failed to elect the proper person.

· The compensation and rehabilitation pending from the women & child welfare department should be paid immediately to the victims.

· The pending compensation from SWD to be sanctioned immediately and directions should be issued to the concerned officers for necessary and immediate action.

· We need to prepare plans for our villages and submit to the concerned for getting the budget to be sanctioned under SCP and TSP.

· The infrastructural issues pertaining to the schools will be solved before the next academic year.



Krishna District (10th December): Round Table Conference was held in Indian Medical Association Hall at Machilipatnam. Victims and witnesses of 7 major cases of violence, violations in the anganwadi centres, government schools, social welfare hostels and the findings of the study on the dalit girl children in specific to this district and entitlements were presented before the jury. Prem Kumar Addl Supdt of Police, Vishwesvara Rao Judge of Legal Aid Authority, Vasantha Bala of Women and Child Welfare Department, Naga Babu President of SC/ST Sarpanchs Association, Jhansi Geddam, GDV Prakash, P.Susanna, K. Praveen Roy of DSS have attended as the jury members. The meeting was presided over the programme manager of DSS. The responses of the concerned officers are as follows:

· DSS is the only organization working with commitment and also on men issues.

· Addl Supdt of Police has given an assurance to solve all the cases as early as possible.

· If everyone is aware of their right as per the constitution, there will be decrease in violence and violations

· The issues pertaining to the schools mentioned in the jury kit shall be addressed immediately; likewise the remaining issues in general will be resolved in the process.

· The agony of the victims is well understood and we promise to see that these things will not recur and assure to solve the gaps identified case wise.

· The compensation and rehabilitation pending from the women & child welfare department in the rape cases will be followed up at the head office and the payment will be arranged soon.

· The issues brought out anganwadi centre wise will be solved at the earliest.

· Legal Awareness and free legal aid to the victims will be provided by the Legal Services Authority













West Godavari District (11th December): Round Table Conference was held in Jabili Conference in Eluru. Victims and witnesses of 8 major cases of violence, violations in the anganwadi centres, government schools, social welfare hostels and the findings of the study on the dalit girl children in specific to this district and entitlements were presented before the jury. The dignitaries on the dais were M. Ramesh Supdt of Police, Lakshmi Sarada Judge of Legal Aid Authority, Mani Singh District Convener of SC/ST Sub Plan, District Social Welfare Officer from SWD, Sudarshan from MTS, Balaswami of Woman & Child Welfare Department, N.Durga Rao of KNPS, Satya Krishna of BSF, Sundar Babu of KVPS, Arja Kumar of SC Welfare Association, Chitrasen of BSP, Satyam of Sneha Club, Nicholas of GCDO, Ajay Babu of MRPS, Jhansi Geddam, GDV Prakash, P.Susanna and Santhi Rekha of DSS. The meeting was presided over by the programme manager of DSS. The responses of the jury members are as follows:


· The police department has assured to take immediate action and has promised to hold an exclusive review of cases dealt by DSS.

· The investigation will be speeded up in the 2 cases of cheating

· A comprehensive approach for the overall development of the dalits will be initiated to curb violence.

· The delay caused in giving the medical report for rape cases will be sorted out through continues follow up as the payment of compensation is being delayed due to the medical reports

· The issues in all the anganwadi centres will be resolved in this financial year.

· The Prohibition and Excise department to take all necessary actions for the closure of belt shops in dalit colonies.




East Godavari District (13th December):Round Table Conference was held in Officers Club at Kakinada.Victims and witnesses of 5 major cases of violence, violations in the anganwadi centres, government schools, social welfare hostels and the findings of the study on the dalit girl children in specific to this district and entitlements were presented before the jury. Saisri DSP (Women) Kakinada, K.Rama Rao District Social Welfare Officer, Gangadhar of Woman & Child Welfare Department, Viajaya Rao AD of Education Department, Kusuma-DRP, Nageswara Rao Senior Advocate, Jhansi Geddam, GDV Prakash and P.Susanna of DSS. The meeting was presided over by Surya Prakasam Co-ordinator of DSS. The responses of the jury members are as follows:


· The police department has promised to take immediate action in all the cases.

· The SHOs and Inspectors will be sensitised for effective implementation of the Act.

· The complainants to take receipt for the complaint given.

· The victims and witnesses to withstand all pressures and shouldn’t yield to pressures.

· The gaps identified will be solved by the respective departments and justice will be done to the victims.

· The victims and witnesses need to be strengthened through orientation in order to reduce the acquittal rate.

· To sensitize the concerned officers and continuously follow up issue wise.



Visakhapatnam (14th December): Round Table Conference was held in VJF Press Club at Visakhapatnam.Victims and witnesses pertaining to 7 major cases of violence presented their agony, violations in the anganwadi centres, government schools, social welfare hostels and the findings of the study on the dalit girl children in specific to this district and issues relating to entitlements were presented before the jury. The dignitaries on the dais Venkata Rao ACP of Central Zone, Nagamani of Woman & Child Welfare Department, Jhansi Geddam, GDV Prakash and P.Susanna of DSS. Programme Manager of DSS has presided over the meeting. The responses of the jury members are as follows:


· It is pitiable to hear such heinous crimes. The concerns are well understood and the services rendered by DSS are of high regards.

· All the cases and the violations presented will be solved with immediate effect by bringing them to the notice of the Commissioner.

· RTC has brought sensitization in us and definitely all the participants will gain much knowledge.

· Direct interaction with the victims increases the responsibility and reminds of the accountability.

· The interaction with DSS like this type of meeting every year was helpful to our department

· We need to fight against the corporatization and commercialization of education as it is denying education to poorer sections of the community

· Such a large number of dalit women gathering together, bringing the victims and demanding for justice in front of the concerned officers is amazing and proves that DSS is going on a right path in mainstreaming the dalit women and girl children



Recommendations:


Ø To work out strategies for comprehensive approach of all the departments to ensure overall development of dalit and adivasi women and girl children to curb violence.

Ø Co-ordination between the line departments to ensure speedy justice by overcoming the delays caused in penal and pecuniary sides.

Ø To make necessary changes in the Acts to ensure punishment of duty bearers for wilful negligence of duties.

Ø Social Welfare Department to play a lead role and ensure coordination among the concerned departments in atrocity cases for speedy justice

Ø Women & Child Welfare Department to make payment of compensation directly as the present procedure is consuming much time.

Ø Women & Child Welfare Department to pay compensation and provide rehabilitation in murder cases of intra community violence.

Ø Judiciary and Police departments to review the quash petitions, stay orders and anticipatory bails given against SC/ST (PoA) Act and restrain the present practice.


Impact:


ü Raising voices in front of the duty bearers demanding justice has increased confidence levels among the victims and witnesses

ü Increase in the accountability of the concerned departments

ü Officials sensitised towards the cause

ü Linkages strengthened with the district officials

ü Much visibility for the women collectives at district level

ü Much visibility for the cause through print and electronic media

ü Increase in the awareness levels