"Gau raksha jaruri hai (cow protection is necessary) but who will save humans," newly inducted Union Minister and dalit leader Ramdas Athawale said today, asserting that incidents like the attack on dalits in Gujarat should not be be allowed to recur.
Law alone will not ensure that there is no crime against dalits, he said and suggested that promotion of inter-caste marriages can help in checking casteism in the society.
"All should work together and nobody should politicise things," he told reporters at the sidelines of an event here.
"Law alone will not ensure that there is no crime against dalits. For this, people need to work together. Law will take its own course. Unless the society changes, inter-caste marriages are promoted, unless efforts are made to bring together two sides of the society, I feel casteism will not end," he said.
To a question over attack on dalits by vigilantes for skinning a dead cow in Gujarat, he said these sort of incidents should not happen.
"The message should go that dalits are also citizens of this country. They should also be respected. 'Gau Rasksha jaruri hai' (cow protection is necessary) but who will save humans. It is not right to attack people like this.
"That is why I would like to appeal to all the people of the country that Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar has given us a Constitution, which ensures social and economic equality, and accordingly we should work and end any wrong mentality," said Athawale, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment.
He said there has been no government under which crimes have not been committed. "But the governments should ensure strict punishment (to guilty)," the Minister said after participating in inaugural session of day-long meeting on 'Monitoring the implementation of constitutional safeguards for Scheduled Castes' here.
The meeting comes at a time when the Centre is under attack from the opposition parties on the Gujarat incident where dalit youths were assaulted by vigilantes for skinning a dead cow.