Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale on Wednesday said he would urge the central government to direct state governments about measures to avoid Dalit atrocities, reported The Indian Express. He said he would also write to state governments urging them to deploy an additional police force in sensitive areas to avoid such incidents.

“This would act as a preventive measure,” Athawale said. “Often, police stations are low on manpower. This is the reason why, whenever there is a complaint by Dalits about them facing threats, the police ignore the complaint. After the atrocity happens, about 100 policemen are deployed for a year or so. If every state puts in place a special mechanism to deal with the cases, the rate will come down.”

The Republican Party of India (A) leader said that increasing drug abuse by the country’s youth was responsible for spike in cases of atrocities against Dalits. “During Shivaji Maharaj’s time, the practice was to break the arms and legs of people committing such crimes,” he said. “Now we have the death penalty for the rapists [in the December 16 gangrape case] but even that doesn’t act as a deterrent.” He was talking about the rape and murder of a Dalit girl in Sonipat, Haryana, earlier this month.

He said people in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, both record a large number of cases of atrocities against Dalits, need not worry “as our [BJP] government is in power in these states”.

The minister’s statements followed incidents of caste-related violence in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. On Wednesday, ten people were injured in clashes between Dalits and Thakurs over the building of a drain in Uttar Pradesh’s Keshopur Jaufari village. Several people, including five police personnel, were injured in clashes in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur on May 9, after violence erupted in the region. In April, a Dalit groom was thrashed for riding a mare in a Haryana village.