Chandigarh [raftaar news bureau] : The National Scheduled Castes Alliance, a social organization for uplifting and reforming lives of Scheduled Castes community, today held a Press Conference at Chandigarh Press Club regarding a ‘Protest/Dharna’ and call for indefinite symbolic Hunger Strike at the Rally Ground, Sector 25 Chandigarh on 28th December, 2020. Informing the media regarding the protest, Paramjit Singh Kainth, President, National Scheduled Castes Alliance said, “the Post-Matric Scholarship scam in Punjab and the corruption in disbursal of funds in the scheme have been highlighted from the past few year but successive governments have ignored the facts in the scam and shielded their officials and ministers from prosecution. The most recent case of Sadhu Singh Dharamsot and the Rs 63 crore corruption in the scheme in which his name has been involved is another addition to the rising cases of diversion of funds in the scheme going on from years. More than Rs 500 crore corruption total in the scheme was well accepted even by the Government after investigation of a third party audit was conducted on the order of the government itself.” Mr. Kainth further said, “more than 3 Lakh students who registered with the Government portal have been blatantly rejected admission into the Educational institutions in Punjab and there are more than 6 Lakh students who have not been given degree/certificates from the last 3 years by these institutions due to the non-disbursal of funds by the Government of Punjab to these colleges and universities. This is one of our major demands that these students be allowed to enroll and get admission into the colleges as well as those who have not been given degree/certificates for their academic courses be given the same so that they can pursue further studies and find employment in relevant fields.”
“We also demand the resignation of Sadhu Singh Dharamsot from the Cabinet ministerial position and also a CBI inquiry be marked to investigate his role in the Post-Matric Scholarship scam. Apart from the scheme, our attention has been shared with the issue of Village Common Land, of which 1/3rd share is promised to the Scheduled caste community in each village but as seen from decades, the community has been largely ignored or coerced into forfeiting their tilling or sowing rights on these lands by the large landlords in the villages. Our demand is that the Village Common Land Act be amended and it be made legally assured that the rights of the people granted land through auction is not infringed upon and no one is forced to step down from participating in the auctions.” told Mr. Kainth.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on December 23 approved changes to the post-matric scholarship scheme for students from the Scheduled Castes, including a new funding pattern of 60-40 for the Centre and States. An investment of ₹59,048 crore, of which ₹35,534 crore would be the Centre’s share, was approved for the next five years. The National Scheduled Castes Alliance welcomed this step by the Central government under stewardship of Shri. Narendra Modi. “This new funding pattern as well increased funds by the Center would allow crores of SC students to benefit and we expect the State government to mend its ways and contribute in the scheme instead of floating different new schemes which will not see the light of the day and remain on paper. Last year, we wrote a letter to the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Shri. Som Parkash regarding the scheme and centre’s funding pattern and this announcement by the central government is synonymous to our demands made then.” the President of the NSCA reiterated in his statement.
Atrocities on the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes community has been rising in the recent years in Punjab, cases of rape, bonded labor, sexual and physical assault as well instances of social boycott have been witnessed on an alarming rate. Regarding such issues, the National Scheduled Castes Alliance urged the government to take strict action against the culprits as well rectify the situations in which legal action is not taken in these cases. A special committee be organized within the Cabinet which should monitor the progress into investigation of these cases and assures that justice is provided to the victims. At the conference were present, Bittu Singh and Rampy Kaur from Bathinda and Tarsem Singh’s (victim) son from Fatehgarh, both the cases were of atrocities and one from Fatehgarh was about murder.
Mr. Kainth also included in his demands, the case for inclusion of Special Component Plan or the Scheduled Castes Sub Plan in the budget allocation of the state. Under this, funds are allocated for the Scheduled Castes community as per their population in the State and the money out of the funds is used exclusively for the benefit and welfare of the community within the State. Examples of such plan being implemented have been in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. “The Captain Amrinder Singh led Congress government in Punjab promised debt waiver of landless labor and marginalized workfoce in the State and another election is upon us in 2022 and yet not even a single marginalized labor/worker has been provided with the relief. We demand that this debt waiver to the poorest of the poor be provided in such dire times of the pandemic.” said Mr. Kainth. The Coronvirus guidelines will be followed and all other safety measures were in place to properly manage the protest and prevent any unfortunate situation, the Alliance assured during the conference
Dilip Singh Buchre of Nav Nirman Kranti Dal, Gursewak Singh Mainmajri, Kirpal Singh of Dr. Ambedkar Bhalai Manch, Daljeet Singh Nandpur, Baj Singh and Surinder Singh Behlan were present in the conference of the Alliance.