Members of Delhi-based Civil rights organisation Jan Hastkshep, who recently toured Balad Kalan and other Sangrur villages where Dalits are agitating for panchayat land, have indicted the government “for supporting landlords for creating dummy Dalit candidates and depriving the Dalits of their right to get one-third land for farming”.
The team, comprising Prof Ish Mishra, of Hindu College, Delhi University, journalists Rajesh Kumar and Anil Dubey, and Dr Vikas Bajpai of Jawaharlal Nehru University, released a fact-finding report on Sunday. Jan Hastkshep, in its report, has demanded that land be given at affordable prices, i.e at Rs 7500 per acre as given to gaushalas, instead of auction at Rs 23,000 – 25,000 per acre.
Following a land auction at Balad Kalan recently, two factions of Dalits had clashed following which 150 of them were booked for attempt to murder charges. Of these, seven have been arrested. So far, 39 Dalits have been arrested in four villages in the past few days during protest against auction of land meant for Dalits.
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The fact-finding report mentions that Dalits are receiving threats from landlords and officials following the incident at Balad Kalan. Dr Vikas Bajpai said, “The struggle by the Dalits for panchayat land started two years ago in an unorganised manner, which has now become organised under Zamin Prapti Sangharsh Samiti. To begin with, the struggle was supported by Naujawan Bharat Sabha, later women took part in large numbers. Last year, in one village Mato, college girls launched a campaign and succeeded in getting farm land for ‘actual’ Dalit families for a year.”
He added that in Kheri village, after interacting with Dalit families, he came to know that since 1976, they had never ploughed land on their own and that landlords had been fielding dummy candidates.
The civil rights body has also demanded that all “false cases” against protesting Dalit peasants in different villages of the district be withdrawn by the government forthwith, and arrests being carried out should be stopped immediately in the interest of justice and public harmony.