Farm and village labourers, most of them belonging to Dalit community, on Monday held a protest outside the office of the deputy commissioner here, demanding the release of their fellow workers who were lathicharged and arrested while protesting against the "illegal" allotment of panchayati land reserved for Dalits in Balad Kalan village in Sangrur district.
The protesters also demanded action against the officials who were responsible for the lathicharge and arrest of their fellow labourers. The demand also included an inquiry into the role of the Sangrur administration in not getting a proper auction conducted for the allotment of panchayati land reserved for Dalits.
Addressing the protesters, executive member of the Pendu Mazdoor Union, Dharmender Ajnala, said that in almost every village, one third of the panchayati land is reserved for Dalits. This land can only be auctioned to members of the Dalit community but this rarely happens, he added.
"However in Balad Kalan and even in several other villages of the state, panchayati land reserved for Dalits, often ends up with members of the upper caste or with those close to the sarpanch. All this is done through illegal means and with the help from the administration", he said.
Kirti Kisan Union leader Dattar Singh, who also addressed the gathering, pointed out that till date, the police has not arrested those who were responsible for bulldozing homes of Dalits built on panchayati land in Gagomahal village. This incident took place in January and so far no arrests have been made despite a case having been registered, he added.