The Zamin Prapati Sangarsh Committee (ZPSC) Tuesday protested across Punjab demanding that panchayati land be reserved for Dalits at subsidised rates through lease rather than annual auction.
The protests received lukewarm response in Faridkot, Barnala and Muktsar districts, while Sangrur saw high participation.
Various farmer organisations too supported the dharna called by the ZPSC.
According to Raj Kumar Verka, vice-chairman of National SC/ST Commission, said land was being unreserved for Dalits. “Since the changes in the Panchayati Act, the government has unreserved almost 5,000 acres,” said Verka, who was not part of any stir.
The ZPSC maintained that not only is the government reducing land reserved for dalits but also offering them at a higher price.
In Tuesday’s stir, the dalit leaders demanded that the government scrap the auction route and lease the land out to them for 30 year on par with what is given to gaushalas.
Many farmers’ organisations that lent their support to ZPSC demanded the withdrawal of cases against some of their leaders and action against those police personnel who lathicharged Dalits on May 24 at Balad Kalan.
District development panchayat officer (DDPO) Ravinder Pal: “There has been no decision of reversing the auction process for panchayati land. Already prices are much lower than the market price and in any case, whatever money we get from the auction will be used for the development of villages only.”
The ZPSC has, till now, resisted from taking the support from any political party claiming that they did not want to be used as a votebank and were fighting their own battle.
The Bahujan Samaj Party on Tuesday too had organised a dharna in support of Dalits, but since the ZPSC was not part of it, the party had to wind it up soon. Earlier on June 1, the Congress had protested outside Bhawanigarh police station where again, the Zamin Prapati Sangarsh Committee declined to lend their support.