Peasants Battle Cry For Land In Punjab
15 June, 2016
An Investigation into Police and Land-lord Repression on Land Struggle of Dalit Peasants in Villages of Sangrur District of Indian Punjab
A Janhastakshep team visited some of the villages in Sangrur district of Punjab on the 28 and 29 May, 2016 to investigate reports of police repression and landlord repression on struggle for agricultural land being waged by dalit peasants in over hundred villages of the district. Janhastakshep had been in the know of this struggle from some earlier reports (Sharma, 2015; Mahil, 2015). Further, it was reported in „The Tribune‟ paper on the 25 of May that there had been a lathi charge on protesting dalit peasants in Bald Kalan village in which around 15 persons had been severely injured. The protesting peasants had also alleged firing by the police (Goyal S, 2016). These reports were confirmed by us from some contacts of APDR (Association for Protection of Democratic Rights) in Sangrur who informed that the movement was simultaneously going on in many villages and that the police had filed cases against dalit peasants and made arrests in several villages. On the basis of these reports it was decided to send a team to investigate the alleged repression unleashed by the district authorities on the movement by dalit peasants.
A team of Janhastakshep visited different villages of Sangrur district on the 28 and 29 of May, 2016 to enquire into the incident of police lathi-charge and firing on protesting dalit peasants in Balad Kalan village of Bhawanigarh tehsil on May 24 and numerous other instances of arbitrary arrests and intimidation of dalit peasants in several other villages by the district administration, police and the local landlords. The team comprised of Ish Mishra, Prof at Hindu College, Delhi University; senior journalists Sh Rajesh Kumar and Sh. Anil Dubey and Dr Vikas Bajpai, who teaches at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University. The team was ably assisted by friends belonging to APDR – Sh Sukhwinder Pappi, Sh Bisheshar Ram, Sh Namdev Pataar and Master Amreek who made possible our visit to different villages and other logistics of stay in Sangrur. We also wish to acknowledge here the help rendered by the PSU (Punjab Students Union) leader Com Shanker
Apart from visiting three villages – Bald Kalan, Bhadoh and Kheri, the team had extensive interaction with peasant men, women and youth; activists of PSU (Punjab Student Union), NBS (Naujawan Bharat Sabha) and APDR; village Panchayat representatives and the district collector.
The report follows the following structure: Section 1 brings out the main issues involved in this struggle; Section 2 discusses some general features of the struggle that are common to different villages of the struggle; Section 3 gives the findings regarding the different issues discussed in section 1 along with the future prospects of this struggle; and Section 4 concludes the report with the demands made by the fact finding team.