"Gujarat could be the first model state in this regard. That is why, we have begun the opening hearing session from here," NHRC Chairperson Justice K G Balakrishnan said, while inaugurating the session here.
The delegation, led by NHRC Chairperson Justice K G Balakrishnan, comprises NHRC member Justice B C Patel, Registrar (Law) A K Garg, Director General Investigation (NHRC) Sunil Krishna and some other senior officers of the Commission.
"The purpose of conducting open hearings was to give them (SCs) a chance to come and speak out fearlessly. We shall convey their views to the district collectors, police officials, Labour Department, Justice Department so that, they can suggest remedies to their problems," he said.
NHRC has decided to hold such open hearings in various states to reach out to Dalits and hear their complaints about violations of their rights by the public authorities as part of the recommendations given by K B Saxena, IAS (Retd) in his report to NHRC on the continuing problems faced by the SCs.
The Commission has adopted 2012-13 as the year for implementation of Saxena Committee report.
"We shall be conducting such open hearing sessions in various states of the country. After two weeks, we shall be going to North Eastern states like Guwahati (Assam), we plan to go to West Bengal, conduct a open hearing in Chattishgarh," Balakrishnan said.
Commenting on the status of SCs in the state, Balakrishnan said future of the SC community seems to be fairly good in Gujarat as compared to many other states. There are so many innovative schemes being implemented by the state.
"The state schemes are working well. This is the state in which, penetration of education of SC and ST communities has reached 70 per cent," he said.
Balakrishnan said there were certain pockets in states where some groups were indulging in rampant discrimination and it would take some time to get over these problems.
Several complaints, largely from Bhavnagar district of police atrocities, non-filing of complaint, inaction by authorities, lack of rehabilitation, among others poured in the first session of the hearing here.
Raju Ramji of Bhavnagar alleged that district police had falsely implicated him in a case and was torturing him, when he had only gone to meet his friend, who was lodged in jail. "The officials insulted me by passing caste based remarks and despite a complaint in this regard, no action was taken," he said.
One Makwana Lalji of Bhavnagar, in his complaint to the Commission alleged that when he resigned from the BJP and joined the Congress, he and his son were being harassed by the state police.
He also alleged that being an RTI activist himself and seeking information about top state ministers, there is a risk to his life.
Some other people from Khambat taluka, Gota taluka, and from Ahmedabad, also brought their issues before the Commission.