Orissa has the highest crime rate in India because of the exploitation of tribal and dalit people there, say Church people in the eastern Indian state.
Traders and various industrial firms have encroached upon areas dominated by dalit and tribal groups, said Father Nicholas Barwa, a tribal activist.
“They have a hidden agenda to plunder the resources and do not hesitate to suppress anyone who stands in their way,” the Divine Word priest told ucanews.com.
“Whenever these communities unite against their exploitation, they are violently subjugated as happened in Kandhamal district,” said Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak of Berhampur, a tribal-dominated diocese in Orissa.
Crimes against dalit and tribal people would increase unless the government reins in “exploitative” upper caste people, he said.
The National Crime Records Bureau reported in early June that crimes have shot up especially in districts dominated by tribal and low-caste people. Orissa now has the highest crime rate in India, the New Delhi-based federal body said.
Some federal leaders have also criticized the Orissa government for not fighting crimes against the poor.
The Orissa government is not serious about checking “growing atrocities” against low caste people, Buta Singh, who heads the federal commission that serves dalit interests, said on June 3.
Last October, the commission accused the Orissa police of helping the perpetrators of crimes against dalit people.
In May, federal Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik expressed shock over the lack of conviction in nearly 90 percent of crimes against dalit and tribal communities in Orissa.
The national conviction rate for such crimes is 42 percent whereas it is only 11.4 percent in Orissa.
Dalit and tribal groups form nearly 40 percent of Orissa’s 36.8 million strong population.