The auction of Common Panchayat land reserved for dalits was withdrawn by the administration in Balab Kalan village in Sangrur. The Dalits had raised a demand to obtain the land for lease for three years.
In a virtual conspiracy in denying dalit agricultural community their rights Auctions of panchayat land were scrapped in a cluster of 11 villages of Sangrur,.They included Badrukhan, Balwarh Kalan,Kular Khurad, Badal Kalan, Jhaloor, Kakrala,,Surajpur, Fategarh, Chhana, Herke and Kheri chehel.
The Dalits have called for a protest on May 11th outside Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann’s residence in Sangrur, against the retreating of undertaking of land auction. Intensity is expected at the highest volume, with the dalit community burning with rage in their hearts. Demands include auctioning land at an affordable or fair rate building a society leasing the land,, award nazul land promised to agricultural labour and enable Scheduled castes to enlists as members in cooperatives to pave way for scrapping debts.
President of the Zameen Prapt Sangharsh Commitee Mukesh Mulaudh stated that they won the right to obtain common panchayat land for a period of 3 years in 2018.However the rural developments and panchayats department withdrew it on March 10th.In addition to this there was no provision for the increase in auction price annually..The department is now increasing the minimum auction price of 5 % to 20 %.
The ZPSC activists met Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal who promised to pursue the department to reinstate all the conditions. However the administration remained unmoved. Varjeet Vaklai,ADC (Development) stated that they were conducting auctions in accordance with he rules and regulations. No more perfect illustration of the connivance of the administration with the upper caste landlord elements and it’s anti-dalit colour. It is noteworthy that inspite of sustained resistance of the ZPSC in a network of villages, the administrators took back their word.
Participating activists included Gurvinder Singh, Charan Singh, Palla Singh, Paramjeet Singh, Bilu Singh and Harmeet Kaur.
Ironically The Scheduled caste reservation of leasing of panchayat lands to the public was scrapped on Thursday.Former Member of Parliament Sunil Jakhar demanded the names of those who conspired to terminate it, and persuaded the chief minister Bhagwant Mann to restore it.In no uncertain terms Jhakar asserted that rights for landless labourers must be unconditionally restored.
The partisan nature of the Aam Admi party to the upper castes and antagonism to the welfare of the landless dalit community has blatantly been exposed before the eyes of the people, It is vital that intellectuals and the poor landed peasantry support the rights of the agricultural labour.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist from Mumbai who has toured and reported democratic events and struggles in Punjab and attended programmes of the Zameen Prapt Sangharsh Commitee.