Friday, April 15, 2011

[ZESTCaste] 25 km from city, Dalits have nowhere to go

25 km from city, Dalits have nowhere to go

Bhartesh Singh Thakur Posted online: Fri Apr 15 2011, 01:09 hrs
Batour(Panchkula) : Close on the heels of Mirchpur, a story of Dalit
repression is unfolding in Panchkula district's Batour village — about
25 to 30 km from Chandigarh.

For the Dalits living here, it seems like curfew has been clamped in
the area — the men have no jobs, women are called by casteist names,
their usual routes of going in and out of the village have been
changed, the children are staying indoors in the evening fearing

Their mistake: They had complained against the Rajputs to the deputy
commissioner and block development officer over income from shamlat
(common) land.

"What kind of life is this?" asked Puran Chand, a landless Dalit, who
was thrown out of work by Rajput landlords as as part of a collective
boycott following a clash that took place between the two groups on
March 17. "The landlords are not allowing us to step on their land.
They stop our women on the way and abuse them. They have even
threatened to outrage their modesty. They have not only taken away our
jobs but are also spreading the word in nearby villages not to give us
work," he added.

Another villager, Dharampal, said: "They are not allowing our animals
to drink water from the common pond."

"I had taken some land on rent from a landlord. But after the caste
violence, I was forced to vacate the land — my brinjal crop is still
standing there," said Sohan Lal, who also claims to be a panchayat

"They call us by casteist names and the police do not take any action
against them. They have threatened to kill us if they spot us. My
husband does not take the main road now," said Nasib Kaur, wife of
Lakshman Dass — who was beaten by the members of the upper caste
during the clash.

A dispute over the earning of Rs 15 lakh from over 400 acre shamlat
land had led to a fight between the Rajputs and the Dalits on March
17. Allegedly armed with sticks, the upper caste members had attacked
the Dalits at a local CPM office. In the fight, Dalits like Suresh
Pal, Joginder, Satpal, Lakshman, Gyan Chand and Satpal has sustained
injuries, according to the police.

While the injured were taken to a hospital in Raipur Rani, Suresh Pal
and Satpal were referred to the Civil Hospital in Panchkula city as
their condition was serious. The same day, the police had registered a
case under Section 3 of the SC/ST Act and Section 148 (rioting), 149
(being a member of unlawful assembly), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt),
452 (trespassing) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC against
over 100 people.

"While some had locked themselves inside the CPM office, some fled the
village and thus were saved," said Lakshman Dass, who was found hiding
at the party office on Thursday, fearing violence due to the
organisation of "Kissano Ka Mahasammelan" — a meeting of landlords
from Panchkula and Ambala districts.

The meet was called to assert the their right over the shamlat land.
It was decided that the land did not belong to the panchayat and any
attempt to acquire it would be thwarted.

According to the Rajputs, the earning from the shamlat land belongs to
them. Asked about the violence and repression of Dalits, Rann Singh —
former sarpanch, who was named in the FIR, said: "We will not allow
them to enter into our fields. The shamlat land has always been with
us and only we have the right to harvest it."

"We want a patch up. But a local CPM leader is instigating them, which
has vitiated the atmosphere," said Rajinder Singh, another landlord.
When asked about it, CPM district president Mehar Chand Goyal said:
"How can there be a patch-up between attackers and victims?"

Meanwhile, the police are yet to make any arrests into the incident.
Panchkula SP Maneesh Chaudhry said: "The seniormost DSP in the
district is probing the case. We will increase security of the

As per Panchkula SDM Kulwant Kalsan, both parties had been invited to
solve the matter. A PCR van has been deployed for the security of the
villagers, claimed the police.

The Dalits have approached the National Commission of Scheduled Castes
and National Human Rights Commission in New Delhi to look into the


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