PUDR brings to your attention that fifty or so Dalit men have been sitting on dharna in Jantar Mantar from 2nd July. They are here for an indefinite period till they get justice. They have marched to Delhi on foot in 44 degree heat, having left Hisar town on 27th June.
These men are part of the same 70 Dalit families whose exodus from village Bhagana had been reported by the national media in the last week of May and who have been camped outside the mini-Secretariat in Hisar since 23rd May. They have been protesting against vicious social boycott by the Jats in their village as well as the unauthorised takeover of common lands in the village by the Jats, and the non-implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi Basti Vikas Yojana. The refusal of Bhagana's Dalit and backward communities to passively accept the takeover of their use and ownership land rights resulted in their social boycott. When a PUDR and AFDR, Punjab team met them in Hisar on 21st June, they were concentrating their energies on resisting the pressure being brought to bear on them to end their protest.
PUDR is shocked and angered to find they have now been forced to resort to undertaking the padyatra as a heightened form of protest and the dharna at Delhi as no action against the guilty jats has been undertaken either by the state administration, the Haryana government or the local police. On the contrary, the protesting Dalits have been charged under section 332, 353, 186, 506 and 124A of Indian Penal Code. Nor had a visit by Kumari Shailja on 21st June yielded any results. All attempts at mediation have also failed as it has now become a matter of izzat for the Jats. No case has been registered against the Jats under the SC/ST Act that the Dalits have been demanding from the beginning. The protest in Hisar is still continuing.
In Delhi, they have sought an appointment with the Home Minister but it has been turned down. They have left a memorandum at his office. They also orgnaized a dharna outside the AICC office and met Rahul Gandhi. They are also trying to meet opposition leaders, and petition the NHRC and SC/ST Commission.
The protest of the Dalits of Bhagana village, Hisar district, Haryana provides yet another example of the caste oppression of Dalits in Haryana and the biased nature of the state administration working in alliance with the upper castes to maintain the same.
• PUDR strongly denounces the excesses committed on the dalit community by the dominant Jats of Bhagana village and the acts of omission and commission by the state administration.
• We extend solidarity with the protestors from Bhagana.
• We demand that cases under the SC/ST Act be registered against the Jats guilty of committing atrocities and enforcing the boycott, removal of all cases against the protestors, restoration of community land and implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi Basti Yojna, and action against the officials guilty of displaying a caste bias in their official dealings in the matter.
Paramjeet Singh and Preeti Chauhan