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No end to boycott of Dalits who sought Rs 50 hike in farm wages in Punjab’s Sangrur

“I have to go to a neighbouring village, 3 km from here, to bring fodder. The Jat farmers say since ‘you have no land, so you are only stealing the fodder from our fields’. We are facing this harassment everyday,” said Nirmal Kaur, 45, who sat on the outskirts of the village while bringing fodder from Hassanpur village.

punjab Updated: Aug 03, 2017 19:46 IST
Avtar Singh
Avtar Singh
Hindustan Times, Sangrur
Dalit boycott,social boycott,Dalit
The Dalits said in view of rising prices, they demanded increase in their daily wages to ₹300 from ₹250 (for men) and ₹220 (for women). But farmers refused to accept their demand and decided to boycott them.(HT Photo)

As the landless Dalit families of Dhandiwal village of the district have been facing boycott by upper caste farmers for the past 15 days for demanding higher wages, they have gone short of fodder for their cattle as the farmers are not allowing them to enter their fields.

As per information, a calf of Hardiyal Singh died on Thursday due to hunger and there was no fodder in the feeder at Charanjit Kaur’s home for the livestock.

“I have to go to a neighbouring village, 3 km from here, to bring fodder. The Jat farmers say since ‘you have no land, so you are only stealing the fodder from our fields’. We are facing this harassment everyday,” said Nirmal Kaur, 45, who sat on the outskirts of the village while bringing fodder from Hassanpur village.

The Dalits said in view of rising prices, they demanded increase in their daily wages to ₹300 from ₹250 (for men) and ₹220 (for women). But farmers refused to accept their demand and decided to boycott them.

“An announcement was made from the gurdwara in the village on July 20 that no one will hire these Dalits for work and no one will also give them milk, food or other eatables. We approached the deputy commissioner on July 21 and he allowed the sale of milk and food items to us, but no action was taken against the boycott,” said Gurpreet Singh, a Dalit youth.

“An announcement was made from the gurdwara in the village on July 20 that no one will hire these Dalits for work and no one will also give them milk, food or other eatables.”

“We have not cooked vegetables for the past 10 days and have been eating ‘roti’ with ‘chutney’. We have no money and no food at home,” said Amarjit Kaur, 50.

After two days of the boycott, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), Dhuri, called parties and decided that the labourers will get ₹303 without food and ₹273 with food, but farmers were not ready to accept the decision.

“We are ready to accept ₹273, but with meal. However, Jats are not agreeing to it. The practice of giving food to labourers has been going on for decades as we cannot cook during working hours. In fact, they want to teach us a lesson for demanding hike in wages,” said Ranjit Kaur, a Dalit panch.

The upper caste members said that labourers will be hired at the DC rate, but they cannot provide meal. “As per law we will pay daily wages, but they are demanding food which is not acceptable,” said Hardeep Singh, an upper caste panch.

Meanwhile, granthi Jagsir Singh denied any announcement from the local gurdwara about the boycott of Dalits.

“We are trying to resolve the issue amicably and have called both communities for a meeting. It will be resolved soon,” said Amreshwar Singh, SDM, Dhuri.

First Published: Aug 03, 2017 19:45 IST