Monday, May 31, 2004

Boycott move: Patiala Dalits forced to leave village

Monday, May 31, 2004:

Dalits in Patiala say they're being forced to leave their homes because an upper caste boycott doesn't let them buy food.

They say they're forced to work 18 hours a day and are paid as little as Rs 40 a day.

"They have boycotted us and don't let us buy food, groceries and even milk. Our family members are not being given work," said Sukhvinder Khan, labourer.

"We have been boycotted which is why we are selling and leaving our homes. They don't let us buy food," added Jeet Singh, labourer.

Denial mode

The upper caste villagers deny the allegation and in turn accused the Dalits of being lazy.

"Three to four people act as middlemen and keep most of the money for themselves. They are leading these people astray," said Hari Singh, landlord.

Even though this dispute has been continuing for the past ten days, the police has taken no action.

"Two separate enquiries have been marked, one by the district SSP and the other by the sub-divisional magistrate of Nabha. As soon as we get the report, action will be taken," held Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon, additional deputy commissioner, Patiala.

And with the administration dragging its feet, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is finding himself in the dock, especially because Patiala is his home constituency.

Source: NDTV, May 31, 2004

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