After submission of reports by two Court Commissioners on the alleged social boycott of Dalits in Bhatla village of Hisar district, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has now directed the Deputy Commissioner of the district to submit a latest status report on the matter by December 6.
The controversy relates to the alleged practice of ‘untouchability’ in Hansi tehsil’s Bhatla village where the Dalits, according to a petition in the High Court, were being boycotted by the people belonging to ‘upper castes’. The petition was filed in the High Court in August 2017.
Advocate Arjun Sheoran in the plea filed on behalf of the residents of the village had said that 550 families are facing a social and economic boycott in the village and had sought action in the matter. The whole controversy had started in June 2017 when some people belonging to the Dalit community had been allegedly abused and assaulted over use of hand pump following which an FIR was lodged.
The High Court, in August 2017, had directed the District and Sessions Judge, Hisar to mediate between the communities. The court in an order in September 2017 had recorded that there has been improvement in the village after the intervention. However, according to the villagers, the social boycott continued despite the visit of the senior judicial officer to the area.
However, another court commissioner, advocate Deepak Balyan, in the report submitted in June 2018 had ruled out the caste conflict in the case and termed last year’s incident as a “spur of the moment” episode. Advocate Balyan had also in his report said that the problem was a result of instigation by vested interests.
In the fresh counter-affidavit filed in the case, the villagers have said that the senior judicial officer had found a clear instances of atrocities in the district but advocate Balyan has downplayed the whole incident.
The villagers through their counsel have also said that Balyan is a Haryana government counsel with close links to a cabinet minister and the ruling party, and the State in the case has been defending the lack of action on part of the administration and Police.