Land Struggles, Peasants

ZPSC led Struggle in Punjab – Dalits of Jalhoor Fight Back

Dalits in Sangrur district of Punjab are fighting for their share of Panchayat land since 2014. They have been able to get their share of land in many villages and are cultivating in co­operative form. This year, Dalits in 44 villages started struggle on this issue. After a pitched struggle, braving police lathis and jail and all sorts of state repression, Dalits of nearly forty villages succeeded in getting land.  In three villages i.e. Jhanerhi, Kalaudi and Jalhoor, the struggle did not succeed. In Kalaudi the matter is in the Court but in Jhanerhi the landlord is a goonda and a henchman of the local MLA. In Jalhoor, the landlords mobilized along caste lines. The Dalits continued the struggle and took to symbolic harvesting in Jalhoor. The landlords attacked their houses and injured some men and women. Police, instead of arresting the landlords, filed cases against the Dalits. Zameen Prapti  Sangharsh  Committee held a Dharna on October 5th, 2016 at Lehragaga in front of the SDM office. Even during the Dharna, the landlords and their goons threatened the people and made a public announcement in the village that the Dalits would be taught a lesson when they returned from the Dharna. ZPSC leaders and leaders of fraternal organizations who were present in the Dharna brought this to the notice of the Tehsildar, who came to receive the memorandum in place of the SDM. He assured full protection, but when the Dalits reached the village along with the leaders and people from other villages, the landlords, who had mobilized the upper castes, started attacking them. Houses of leaders and activists were selectively attacked. Old and young, men and women, were cruelly beaten and attacked with sharp edged weapons. More than 50 people were severely injured, houses were ransacked and plundered. Police remained silent spectators, thus helping the landlords in executing this carnage. In the name of rescuing people from outside the village, such people were asked to come out. The men were arrested and women were left in the open, vulnerable to attack .Those injured who had been admitted to the Civil hospital were arrested, while some managed to leave the hospital stealthily. Though more than fifty Dalits were injured but none is in hospital except the mother of Balwinder Singh, Dist committee member of ZPSC, who is unable to move and in a serious condition. Sixty eight people, including those from outside the village as well as activists and leaders of fraternal organizations, were framed in false cases. Thus the landlords tried to create terror.

ZPSC, responding to the situation, called a meeting of organizations of peasants and rural labour  and formed a “Committee Against Repression in Jalhoor” comprising of seven Majdoor-Kisan organization including Kirti Kisan Union, Pendu Mazdoor Union, BKU (Ugrahan),  BKU (Dakaunda), BKU (Krantikari), Khet Mazdoor Union and Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union. This committee decided to hold a rally and Demonstration in Lehragaga on 21st October

A joint rally and protest demonstration was held at Lehragaga on 21st Oct. Nearly seven thousands people from the different parts of the state thronged in support of the Dalits of Jalhoor. This has specially importance because the harvesting season of paddy is at its peak and peasants and labourers are extremely busy and unable to spare an hour .Nearly two hundred Dalits from Jalhoor attended defying the terror created by the landlords. Even the seriously injured also attended the rally The terror which the landlords had tried to create with the active support of district civil and police administration and with patronization of Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Finance Minister in Badal government evaporated in thin air.  Gurmukh Singh and Mukesh Kumar Maloud of ZPSC, Nirbhai Singh Dhudike, President Kirti Kisan Union; Joginder Singh Ugrahan, President  BKU (Ugrahan); Gurmit Singh Bhatiwal of BKU (Dakaunda ); Shinder Singh of BKU (Krantikari); Surjit Phool of BKU (Krantikari -2); Balwinder Singh Bhullar, General Secretary  Pendu Mazdoor Union; Jora Singh of Khet Mazdoor Union; Sanjiv Mintu of Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union and Dr. Pritpal Singh of AFDR addressed the people supporting the struggle for land by Dalits under the leadership of Zameen Prapti Sangharsh Committee and pledged to fight the landlords onslaught on struggling Dalits. Speakers condemned the role of all parliamentary opposition parties who have not opened their mouths against this carnage. They demanded that Harjinder Mangu, Gurdip Babbaan and Gurlal Singh, the main culprits and their accomplices be arrested and punished; SSP police, SP, DSP and SHO Lehragaga be terminated, arrested and punished including DC, SDM and Parminder Dhindsa; False cases against Dalits and leaders of organizations be withdrawn, panchayat land reserved for dalits be given to them and dummy auctions be cancelled and injured and looted be compensated. Later a procession was taken to the SDM office.