Following similar attempts by rivals, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is now projecting itself as the party that is committed to protect the rights of 'Dalit' farmers.
In a bid to leverage the latter's ongoing agitation against the police action during their protest against the auction of reserved panchayati land, the BSP organized a rally before the DC's office on Monday at which it warned the SAD-BJP led government of "serious consequences" if it failed to safeguard the Dalits' rights.
BSP leaders also appealed to the farmers to become united before the state assembly elections. Addressing the gathering, the head of the party's Punjab affairs, Ram Gopal Jataw, who had come from Ghaziabad, UP, for the rally, said: "I strongly urge the state government not to force us to take recourse to violence in order to protect our rights - it'll cost them heavily. You shouldn't worry about boycotts by zamindars (landlords), they all depend on you - if you boycott them they won't be able to produce crops.You just need to present a united front to ensure the BSP's victory in the coming assembly elections. I assure you we'll uproot the zamindarisystem if the party is elected to rule the state."
"Despite accounting for 40 per cent of the state's population, most Dalits in Punjab are still unaware about their rights. This is the time to wake up to take this protest from Sangrur to the entire state," Jataw added.
Earlier, BSP state president Parkash Singh Jhandali addressed the crowd and appealed to Dalit farmers to unite to "fight the system". He also condemned the police for their baton charge and registration of false cases against Dalit farmers and demanded the immediate release of 41 farmers of Balad Kalan village. "Reserved land should be given to Dalit farmers free of cost for tilling", he added
After the rally BSP leaders submitted a memorandum to deputy commissioner Arshdeep Singh.