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New SC commission chief has this message for IIT panel: Don’t forget a Dalit wrote Constitution

Vijay Sampla, who took charge as NCSC chairperson Wednesday, questioned an IIT committee’s suggestion to exempt faculty from caste-based reservation.

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New Delhi: Vijay Sampla, the new chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), has hit out at an IIT panel’s recommendation to exclude SC/ST reservation from faculty hiring.

In December 2020, a panel comprising IIT directors and government officials had suggested that IITs be exempted from caste-based reservations because they are ‘institutes of national importance’.

In an interview to ThePrint, Sampla questioned the IIT panel for saying there is “non-availability of suitable candidates” for faculty posts.

“The IIT panel must not forget that the holy Ramayana and the Constitution of the country were written by Dalits,” the former BJP MP from Punjab said.

While the recommendation was not seen as favourable by the ministries of social justice and tribal affairs, a final decision has not been taken. Sampla’s comment is one of the rare instances when a government functionary has issued a strong statement against the panel’s suggestion.

Also read: Dalit women often face sexual violence because of, yes, their caste

NCSC finally gets a head

The NCSC has not had a chairperson for a year, and faced criticism for being ‘headless’ as crimes against Dalit women in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras and Balrampur grabbed national headlines a few months ago.

Last week, three teenaged Dalit girls were poisoned in Unnao in the same state, of which two died and the third remains critical. Commenting on this atrocity, Sampla, who took charge Wednesday, said: “The director of the Uttar Pradesh SC commission was sent to the spot for a review. The commission has asked the state to provide a sum total of Rs 12 lakh compensation to the victims’ family.”

The chairperson added: “It is of importance to note that the perpetrators were from the SC community as well; the commission will ensure that justice is done.”

According to reports, Uttar Pradesh accounts for about 25 per cent of the crimes against Dalits. The latest National Crime Records Bureau data also suggests that crimes against the SC community across India have risen by 7 per cent.

Reacting to this data, Sampla said: “Uttar Pradesh is close to the national capital, which is why all eyes are set there, but the population of SCs is high in several other states as well. Take Punjab, for example… It will not be surprising if the latest census shows the Dalit population to be about 40 per cent.”

He added: “As for caste-based discrimination, it is a problem that plagues the country 70 years after Independence, and as part of my duties as chairperson, I intend to set up panels which will aid the commission with recommendations and conduct research on the ground.”

Apart from the lack of a head, the NCSC has also been struggling with just 20 per cent staff posts occupied. On this issue, Sampla said: “The staff here is deputed by the central government and not hired directly, and I will be making recommendations seeking additional personnel. In my meetings and discussions so far, it has come to my notice that a single staff member is managing more than 10 states. It is humanly impossible to do so.”

Also read: No enmity in village, can’t accuse anyone, says Unnao family after 2 Dalit girls found dead


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