Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Panchayat blacklists Dalits

Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Moondkheri (Patiala)

Dalits protesting against having been made bonded labourers in this village have been penalised by the panchayat. As many as 15 of them have been blacklisted and lists of the names have been distributed among all traders including milkmen in the village as well as the nearby half a dozen villages.

Traders are in a fix, with the panchayat and the Baba Shampuri Sports Club, which has jointly issued the directive, fining one shopkeeper Rs 2,000 for selling 2 kg of sugar to one of the blacklisted persons. The traders have been warned that they will face social boycott in case they serve any of the Dalits who have been identified in the lists.

The panchayat and the club took this action against the Dalits after a Phillaur-based organisation, working for the cause of bonded labourers, served legal notices on many lanbdlords of the village, charging them with helping the Dalits as bonded labourers.

The persons who have been affected by the panchayat decision say their life has become hell. Jagar Singh, one of the affected persons, said seven of the local milkmen had stopped selling milk to them. He said the lists had also been distributed among neighbouring villages to flour mill owners and shopkeepers to ensure that they could not buy any essential item from them.

Landowners are, however, emphatic that this has been done to identify “mischief makers” in the village because they had filed false complaints against various landlords. They said all 15 Dalits had taken money in advance in lieu of their payments for the whole year or for six months and had stopped working claiming that they were being made bonded labourers.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh today asked Subdivisional Magistrate Manjit Singh Narang to visit the village and take steps to end the boycott of the Dalits. The administration is also likely to look into the action of the panchayat to ascertain whether administrative action can be taken against it.

Source: The Tribune, September 3, 2002

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