The saga of Dalit agricultural labour confrontation with ruling classes continues in Punjab. A rally was organised by the Pendu Mazdoor Union, the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, the Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union and the Zameen Prapt Sangharsh Commitee on June 10th at the Fruit market in town of Sangrur,projecting the demands of dalit agricultural labour for distribution of Panchayat land to be leased to the dalit community. Around 4000 people assembled .
The speakers were Lacchman Sewewala, Zora Nasrali , Mukesh Mulaudh ,Tarsem Peter,Kashmir Singh,Bikar Singh Hathuah ,Dharampal Singh and Sanjeev Mintu. They asserted that the chief minister Bhagwant Singh Mann and Panchayat minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal had agreed to fulfill the demands placed in the talks undertaken on June 7th and 8th.They illustrated how in many villages where land was leased to the dalit community dummy auctions are undertaken, denying them their fair share. The rulers gave an assurance that they would scrap dummy auctioning and ensure that auctioning was carried out respecting legal procedure.
The govt pledged to set up a separate commitee to ensure that the dalit community received its fair dues for labour, enrolled all the dalits into a cooperative society which would relive the dalits of all debts incurred and form a Panchayat society which would enable all the dalit agricultural labour to procure lands on lease.
Very positive to witness such spirited collective resistance of different agricultural labour organisations from 3 different trends within the revolutionary democratic camp and the do or die spirit of the dalit labour community. From struggle experience the dalit agricultural labour community has politically matured to not place faith on promises from the govt and understand that it is imperative to wage a sustained struggle at the very root against the upper caste land mafia. patronised by the ruling party. Their fury is intensifying by each day against the ruling classes.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai. Toured India, particularly Punjab,reporting mass movements.