Monday, July 28, 2003

Talhan clash: panel's terms for Dalit nominee

Varinder Singh

Talhan (Jalandhar), July 27

The much-publicised June 14 peace pact, is virtually lying defunct due to the non-inclusion of one of the two Dalit nominees by the Jat Sikh-dominated Shaheed Baba Nihal Singh Gurdwara Management Committee as a regular member at its weekly meetings. Mr Amarjit, one of the Dalit nominees, attended today's meeting but would not be allowed to attend future meetings on account of his inability to attain "Sikh saroop" (Sikh appearance) according to the clauses of the pact.

The committee which discussed the issue at today's meeting has directed Amarjit, one of the two Dalit nominees who were inducted into the committee, that if he wanted to attend weekly meetings as a regular member he would have to either partake 'amrit' by Wednesday or wait for another one-and-a half month till his beard grows full length.

The closed-door meeting was held in the presence of Mr Amarjit and Mr Rajinder Singh, DSP, and a duty Magistrate, who had taken Mr Amarjit along from his house with the promise that the administration would ensure his participation in the meeting as a regular member. Mr Jang Bahadur Singh, a member of the committee said Mr Amarjit would be allowed to attend the meeting as a regular member only after he had fulfilled either of the conditions. "He has been told to either partake amrit by Wednesday, or wait for another one and half months, till his beard grows full length," said Mr Jang Bahadur Singh. He, however, added that Mr Amarjit had not cut his hair after the pact and he had never consumed tobacco.

Mr Rajinder Singh, DSP, maintained that Mr Amarjit was allowed to attend the meeting and said, we give you a good story within a day or two. Mr Vijay Sampla, the Vice-President of the BJP, refuted this, saying that Mr Amarjit was not allowed to sit in the meeting as a regular member.

Mr Chanan Ram Pal, president of the Dalit Action Committee (DAC), maintained that the condition of partaking of amrit by Amarjit was not acceptable to the DAC. "It can be a personal choice or decision

of Mr Amarjit to partake 'amrit', but as a condition it is not acceptable to us. There was no such condition in the pact except that the members would have 'Sikh saroop' which has been fulfilled by Amarjit, who regularly wears a turban and who has not cut his hair since the signing of the pact".

Mr Vijay Sampla, expressed concern that the truce was not taking the shape as was envisaged. "The payment of an additional compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of Vijay Kumar Kala, who was killed in the alleged police firing at Buta Mandi, has not materialised though it was a clause of the pact. Moreover, the magisterial inquiry has failed to make headway despite the assurance of the Chief Minister that the inquiry would be completed within 15 days," said Mr Sampla.

Meanwhile, four Dalits, whose houses were damaged in the June 5 Dalit-Jat clashes, have refused to accept the government compensation after dubbing it as 'grossly inadequate'. Four of the six members of the Dalit community whose houses were damaged have refused the government compensation. The total number of people whose houses or other property was damaged in the violence was 13.

When contacted Mr Ashok Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, said though the assessment committee on compensation had both Dalit as well as Jat members apart from PWD officials, the administration has ordered reassessment following objections by four of the total 13 violence-affected persons. He alleged that the peace pact violated by the Dalits as apart from their failure to ensure 'Sikh saroop' of their members they had not withdrawn a civil suit according to the agreement.

Source: The Tribune, July 28, 2003

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