Outcry over sangrur daily wager’s murder: Dalit outfits, farmer unions rally behind victim’s family
Coming out in support of the family of Jagmail Singh (37), who was tortured by upper-caste men and forced to drink urine before he died at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh on Saturday, members of various Dalit organisations, farmer unions and political parties on Sunday laid hours-long siege to the Lehra-Sunam highway.
Jagmail’s family on Saturday had refused to accept his body at PGIMER. The protest, which started 1km from the residence of former chief minister and Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal at Changaliwala village in Lehragaga sub-division in the noon, was on till late evening.
The protesters, who raised slogans against the Punjab government alleging caste discrimination, demanded ₹50 lakh compensation for Jagmail’s family and government job for one member. They are on an indefinite stir. The victim’s minor children also joined the protest even as his wife was at the PGIMER.
The four accused — Kamalpreet Singh alias Rinku, his father Amarjeet Singh, Yadwinder alias Lucky and Balwinder alias Binder of Changaliwala village — have been arrested. Jagmail, a Dalit construction worker, had an altercation with them over a minor dispute on November 7.
On Sunday, the protest was supported by the Zameen Prapti Sangharsh Committee, Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union, Mazdoor Mukti Morcha (MMM), Punjab Students Union (Randhawa) and the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU), etc.
Also, Aam Aadmi Party’s Sunam MLA Aman Arora, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Gulzar Singh, Communist Party of India (CPI)’s state unit secretary Bant Singh Brar along with folk singer and Dalit activist Bant Singh Jhabhar, also a survivor of an attack by upper-caste men, joined the protest.
Earlier, leader of opposition in Punjab assembly Harpal Singh Cheema met the victim’s family members at the village.
“The arrest of the accused is not enough. The state government is escaping from its responsibility. The family has not accepted Jagmail’s body and we will continue with the protest till the demands are not met,” said Bikkar Singh, the district chief of the Zameen Prapti Sangharsh Committee.
Bant Singh Jhabhar, who had attacked by his landowner that cost him both of his arms and his left leg in 2006, said he will fight for Jagmail’s family and will not leave the site till justice is not delivered.
“It does not matter who is chief minister. It could be Parkash Singh Badal or Capt Amarinder Singh. The life of Dalits has not changed. They are being killed and harassed with impunity. I was attacked by upper-caste people for opposing the harassment of my daughter. I want justice for Jagmail’s family,” Bant said.
Sangrur deputy commissioner Ghanshyam Thori said the administration is ready to provide ₹8.25 lakh compensation and ₹5,000 pension to the victim’s wife.
“We are ready with first installment of the amount and rest will be given next week. Talks are on in this regard,” said Thori.
Some upper-caste villagers join hands for justice
Some upper-caste residents of the village also joined the protest, demanding adequate compensation for the family of Jagmail who lived with his wife and three minor children in a one-room house.
“All Brahmin, Jat and Sikhs want justice for Jagmail as it was a horrific incident. We also demand punishment to the accused and financial assistance for the family. But it was not a case of caste discrimination,” said Palla Singh, an upper-caste resident of the village.
The residence of the accused — Amarjeet and Rinku — was locked on Sunday.
Former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal along with Congress MLAs Raj Kumar Verka and Raj Kumar Chabbewal met the family members of Jagmail Singh and protesters at Changaliwala village on Sunday evening.
Verka said the state government will give ₹5,000 pension to Jagmail’s wife besides providing free education to his three children.
“A family member will be given job,” he added.
Earlier, state education minister Vijay Inder Singla along with Verka held a meeting with Patiala range inspector general (IG) Jatinder Singh Aulakh, deputy commissioner Ghanshyam Thori and senior superintendent of police (SSP) Sandeep Garg seeking report on what steps were taken in the case.
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