After 37 days of suffering injuries, Gurdev Kaur, 70, a Dalit woman from Jhalur village, died at the PGIMER in Chandigarh on Friday night around 10:45 pm. Her death created tension in the region as labour and farmer organisations staged a protest outside the deputy commissioner’s office here on Saturday demanding the arrest of those, who attacked her. She had been in the hospital since October 5.
Tension had gripped Jhalur village in Sangrur in October after a clash between Dalits and landlords, which left 30 people injured. The clash took place over the common land between upper caste landlords, allegedly supported by local Akali leaders, and Dalits, who are members of the Zameen Prapti Sangharsh Committee.
On Saturday, hundreds of activists of the Sangharsh committee, Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan), BKU (Ekta –Dakaunda), Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union and members of some other organisations gathered outside the DC office and raised slogans against the state government and the police.
“The landlords with the support of the police and political leaders assaulted Dailt families, but the police have not arrested them. Our around 17 members were arrested. The goons, who attacked Dalits and assaulted the elderly woman, are roaming free, only two persons were arrested,” said a Sangharsh committee member, Gurmukh Singh.
He said, “We demand immediate arrest of all the culprits, who attacked Dalits. They should be charged under Section 302 (murder) instead of 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code”.
“Senior superintendent of police Pritpal Singh Thind, along with other police officials, who had not performed their duties, should be suspended,” he added.
The protesters have decided not to cremate the body of the woman till the arrest of the accused. Around 150 protesters decided to spend night outside the DC office.
However, the body of Gurdev Kaur was not handed over to the family till late evening by the PGI authorities.
Senior superintendent of police Pritpal Singh Thind said, “Police were not aware of whereabouts of the woman. We didn’t know where she was during the past days but the police have started investigation and the accused will be arrested soon.”