Monday, July 07, 2003

Dalits, Jats clash; traffic blocked

Kanchan Vasdev

Bhattian Bet (Ludhiana), July 6

The simmering tension between Jats and Dalits for the past one week over the election of a Dalit sarpanch finally came to the fore today when the Dalits tried to intervene when some Jats refused to let their women answer the call of nature in the latters' fields.

This irritated the Jats and led to a clash. A Dalit, Om Parkash, received an injury on his head as he was attacked with a sickle by a Jat.

Another person was injured in the clash following which the agitated Dalits blocked traffic on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar highway, leaving commuters stranded for over three hours.

The Jats of the village had not been allowing the Dalit women and children to answer the call of nature on the land acquired by the government for sewerage board for the past one week.

Another Dalit Chaman Lal was attacked and injured. The police rounded up Joginder Singh along with three others from the spot while another suspect Ranjot Singh had absconded.

Dalit women and men accompanied by the villagers from Hazoori Bagh village sat on a dharna on the G.T. Road. The sarpanch of Hazoori Bagh village, Mr Des Raj Bhatti, and Mr Hans Raj, a councellor, also joined them.

The dharna was lifted at around 10.30 a.m. after the SDM (W), Mr Malwinder Singh Jaggi, SP, City-II, Mr Pritam Singh, and the DSP, Mr Manjit Singh Dhesi, assured the Dalits of strict action against the guilty.

Talking to TNS, Mr Hari Ram, father of the elected Sarpanch, Mr Sarwan Kumar, said the Jats were not able to digest the victory of a Dalit and were irritated over the fact that Dalits would rule over the village.

He added that 80 per cent population of the village was of Dalits and the rest were Jats. Mr Hari Ram also said the Dalits had agreed to elect a Jat unanimously to receive a grant of Rs 2 lakh from the state government. The Jats, however, did not like the candidate nominated by Dalits and they filed the nomination papers of another candidate. Following this, the Dalits also fielded Sarwan Kumar.

Bholi, wife of Chaman lal, who was injured in the clash, alleged that the Jats had been harassing them for the past many days. She said a similar clash was averted on the election day also. "Today's incident could have been prevented had the SHO of Salim Tabri taken some steps to contain the tension as we had been complaining him for the past many days about the excesses of Jats. But he failed to do anything."

The Dalits gathered on the spot demanded action against the SHO. Mr Narinderpal Singh, SSP, Ludhiana, said a case has been registered against four persons under Section 7 of the Civil Protection Act, Section3 of the SC Act and Section 324/34 of the IPC against Ranjodh Singh, Joginder Singh, Jaswinder Singh and Sarvpreet Singh.

Source: The Tribune, July 7, 2003

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