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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Row over ‘boycott Dalits’ diktat by upper caste families in Punjab village

A video of the announcement is being widely shared on the social media in which a male voice can be heard urging the upper caste families to boycott lower caste people in Khiva Dialuwala village of Punjab’s Mansa district.

punjab Updated: Sep 17, 2019 11:25 IST
Ravinder Singh
Ravinder Singh
Hindustan Times, Mansa (Punjab)
People of the Dalit community outside the Bhiki police station where they filed a complaint against the boycott by upper caste families.
People of the Dalit community outside the Bhiki police station where they filed a complaint against the boycott by upper caste families. (HT Photo )
         

Dalits of Khiva Dialuwala village in Punjab’s Mansa district filed a police complaint on Monday against their alleged boycott by the upper caste families, announcements regarding which were purportedly made through loudspeakers from the village gurdwara on Sunday.

The video of the announcement is being widely shared on the social media in which a male voice can be heard urging the upper caste families to boycott lower caste people . The diktat was to neither sell to nor buy anything from Dalits, not even farm produce, including milk. Dalits will also not be deployed as labour and won’t be invited to social gatherings, the announcement dictates. The village has 66 Scheduled Caste families and 300 of the upper caste.

The development was the result of a September 5 road mishap in which a 6-year-old Dalit boy was injured after being hit by the two-wheeler of an upper caste man, Makhan Singh, who was later booked. The boy is undergoing treatment at PGIMER in Chandigarh. Dalits alleged that instead of helping the victim’s family, upper caste people were pressing the family to withdraw the case.

Dalits, on Monday filed a complaint with Bhikhi SHO, demanding action in the matter. Rantu Singh, father of the injured boy, said, “Makhan works with a private company. As his family feared that he may lose his job, they and other Jat Sikhs of the village are intimidating us to withdraw the case. Makhan’s family didn’t even enquire about the condition of my son who got serious injuries on the head . Doctors say his treatment may take another three months.”

Lakhwinder Singh, another Dalit from the village, said shops owned by members of their community have been shut since Sunday. Milk and other essential commodities are not being sold to the SC families by upper caste families, he added.

Former IAS officer SR Ladhar, who is working for the welfare of Dalits, expressed concern over the situation and said he had talked to DC seeking action in the matter. Deputy commissioner Apneet Raiyiat said a case is being registered . Khudar Singh, son of the sarpanch Baljeet Kaur, who has been named in the complaint filed by Dalits, said, “Even as I am not supporting boycott, it was a collective decision of upper caste families of the village.”

Talking to HT over phone, the granthi of the village gurdwara Modan Singh said, “I made the boycott announcement at the behest of the Jat Sikhs of the village, including Khudar Singh, the son of the village sarpanch.”

First Published: Sep 16, 2019 20:20 IST

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