The Nation Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken a serious view of the allegations that the Kerala State Development Corporation for SC & ST Ltd used funds meant for the welfare of people from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities to construct a shopping complex in Thiruvananthapuram and that it did not allot even a single shop to them. The matter was brought to the notice of the Commission by a complainant during its 'Open Hearing' of issues and problems of S.C. communities, which was held at the Government Guest House, Thycaud in Thiruvananthapura, Kerala today.
On the spot directions were given to issue notices to the Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala, Principal Secretary, SC Development and Managing Director, Kerala State Development Corporation for SC & ST Ltd to submit reports in the matter within four weeks. In all 85 complainants turned up to raise their grievances before the Commission. Most of the complaints related to non-allotment or delay in giving possession of land to the people of Scheduled Caste communities, delay or non-registration of complaints by police and problems in payment of pension. Some complaints related to denial of the Scheduled Caste status to some communities. In most of the complaints, the Commission gave immediate directions for calling reports from the concerned authorities of the State Government.
After, the 'Open Hearing', the Commission held a meeting with the representatives of civil society and Non-Government Organizations. They raised issues, which inculded among others, enomalies in distribution of ration and other supplies in tribal areas and government apathy towards redressal of this menace and problems of migrant workers. The issue of unchecked population of stray dogs and rising cases of dog bites in all parts of Kerala was also raised, which was allegedly causing lot of inconvenience to the people.
Earlier, inaugurating the three day 'Open Hearing' and 'Camp Sitting' of the Commission on matters of human rights violations related to the people of Kerala, Mr. Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Chairperson, NHRC said that the Commission does not receive many complaints from Kerala as it had better human rights indices compared to many other states because of high literacy rates, health care and other facilities, but there were still some problems like the issue of Endosulphan spraying and its impact on the health of people, which needed to be looked into.
He said that the Commission had been trying to reach out to people in various parts of the country through its 'Open Hearings' of the complaints on the atrocities against the Scheduled Castes. Such hearings, along with the disposal of some cases at the 'Camp Sittings' have helped in sensitizing the government machinery and civil society towards human rights issues. But with the work related to the disposal of so many complaints received each year, it is not possible for the Commission to go outstation and organize such programmes very frequently.
Ms. Nalini Netto, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala expressed the hope that the NHRC's 'Open Hearing and 'Camp Sitting' will prove to be a major step towards proactive good governance. The people of the Scheduled Caste communities will have a positive feeling that they had a platform where they could raise their problems directly.
Mr. A. K. Garg, Registrar(Law), NHRC gave an overview of the issues including, among others, child labour, education, health problems, which will be taken up during the 'Camp Sitting' apart from the complaints related to the Scheduled Castes in the 'Open Hearing'. He said that if the government complies with the recommendations of the Commission, the people will get benefited. In this context, he referred to some actions taken by the State government on the recommendations of the Commission about problems relating to Endosulphan spraying. He said that without the cooperation of the State governments, the endeavors of the NHRC towards helping them in good governance cannot be successful.
On the occasion, NHRC Members, Mr. Justice Cyriac Joseph, Mr. Justice D Murugesan and Mr. S C Sinha, Secretary General, Mr. Rajesh Kishore, Kerala SHRC Chairperson, Mr. Justice J B Koshy, senior officers of the NHRC and State government were present.
On the second day of its 'Camp Sitting' tomorrow on the 9th April, 2015, the NHRC will take up 24 cases in the Full Commission and Division Benches. These will include hundreds of linked matters relating to Endosulfan as well as issues of death in judicial custody/police action, vandalization of Church, exploitation and torture of tribal migrant victims of Waynad district, trafficking of children from other states to Kerala for admission in orphanages, harassment of handicapped candidates in examination, rehabilitation of landless Dalits adivasis & others, death of devotees in Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala, infants death in Attappady, child labour in children home, non-payment of pension etc.
On the concluding day of the Camp Sitting on the 10th April, 2015, the Commission will hold discussions with the Chief Secretary, Director General of Police, DMs, SPs and other senior civil, police and jail officers of the State on the issues raised by the NGOs. After the meeting, the Chairperson and the Members of the Commission will brief the media on the outcome of its three day 'Camp Sitting' in Kerala.