An organisation formed by Dalits to fight for the rights of the community in villages is fighting panchayat elections in the state for the first time.
Zamin Prapati Sangrash Committee (ZPSC) has fielded candidates for the upcoming panchayat polls in seven Sangrur villages and five of them have become panches unopposed in three villages.
Mukesh Malaud, president of ZPSC while talking with The Indian Express, said, ”We have fielded candidates in villages Balad Kalan, Tolewal, Kheri kailan, Gharachon, Mullowal, Bhattiwal and Liddran for the posts of panches and sarpanches. Tolewal and Kheri Kalan are the villages reserved for SC candidates, rest are ‘general’ villages where our SC candidates are contesting against the general category candidates. This is our effort to get our demands get our demands for Dalits living in those villages.”
Gurmukh Singh, another member of ZPSC, said,”Two of our candidates each in Bhattiwal and Mullowal have been elected panches unopposed, while one in village Ghrachon. Sarpanches are contesting in all the seven villages. In Balad Kalan village, our ZPSC member Paramjeet Kaur is the only woman candidate.”
Paramjeet Kaur said,” I am confident. I have ample time to make direct contact with villagers to win this election.”
The chosen panches are Balvir Kaur from village Gharachon, Sukhwinder Kaur — a factory worker — from village Bhattiwal and Sukhchain Singh — a mason — from the same village. Gurmail Kaur, a khet mazdoor, and Baldev Singh, a retired armyman, have been elected panches unopposed from Mullewal village.
Gurmukh Singh added, “Papers of our candidates from another village Kheri Baba Dular Singh Wala were not even considered for the reasons best known to the officers, we lodged our protest and even inquiry was marked to find the reason. However, no action against erring officers has been taken.”
ZPSC chief Malaud said: We demand the one-third land with village panchayats be given on 99 years lease to actual Dalit families rather than fielding of dummy candidates by powerful landlords. We also want plots reserved for dalits to be given to them from panchayat land and our chosen sarpanches will focus on dispute settlement within the panchayat rather than going to police stations.”