Bhagana's Dalits Demand Justice in Delhi

Excluded from Society and Victims of State Repression, Dalits Demonstrate in Delhi for Justice

Neel Kranti Desk

(Translated from Hindi by Gurinder Azad)

While Delhi and its outskirts are facing 45 degrees temperatures and people are retreating into homes, offices and cars with air-conditioning, Dalits from Bhagana village (Haryana) have reached Delhi covering a 200 kilometer journey on foot in this sweltering summer heat, half naked, as a protest against the Khap kind of inhuman firmans of Jats of Bhagana. They have sat on a Dharna at Jantar Mantar in the hope that the government will intervene in the matter and render them justice.

bhag__90

These Dalits of Bhagana are the victims of the notorious Khap panchayat of Bhagana, which has not only snatched the Dalit community's land but also imposed a complete social boycott on them. Not just this, the Jats have built a wall on the street leading to the Dalit basti to prevent the Dalits from even going to the fields to relieve themselves. The Jats also forbade them from taking their cattle to the public pond for drinking water. Added to this, they had started to openly harass Dalit women. All these compelled the Dalits to leave their native village.

poster_8_copyIn fact, this series of incidents started unfolding when the Dalits revolted against the deception that the Jats had committed against them. In 2009, the government had announced the allotment of 100 acres of government land for people living below the poverty line under the Mahatma Gandhi Maleen Basti Yojna. The then Sarpanch of Bhagana was from the Chamar caste. Before the land could be distributed as plots, the Jats strongly objected to the proposal and did not allow the initiation of the process of land allotment by the Sarpanch.

Some time later, a Jat became the Sarpanch and the issue faded away from public memory. But a few months ago, the Jats told the Dalits that they would get plots very soon and for this, each family has to deposit Rs.1000.

bhag_744The jubilant Dalits of the village, despite their extremely poor economic condition, submitted the said amount to the Jats.

But a few days later they saw that a large number of trees on the land in question were being cut and chopped and the logs loaded into trucks to be transported to the market. It is to be noted here that there were more than a thousand, several years old trees on that piece of land.

When the Dalits asked about it, they were told that the trees were being cut so that the plots could be distributed. But the Dalits finally realized they were being swindled when they saw a wall started coming up all around the land.

They informed D.D.P.O. who saw the trees being chopped and taken for sale in the market with his own eyes. But despite seeing all these facts he could not do anything.

bhag__777As mentioned earlier, the wall not only hampered the Dalits' daily routine but also restricted them from going to the fields even to relieve themselves as the wall was raised just in front of the doors of Dalits' houses. With this wall, the Dalits were excluded from the grounds on which they traditionally used to celebrate their festivals, and where they wanted to install a statue of Dr. Ambedkar this year. The Jats grabbed that land too.

The social boycott of the Dalits started at that particular juncture. For a few days, the Dalits endured the situation but later got fed up and thought of approaching the district administration for relief. To live there in those circumstances was very painful, but approaching the administration turned out to be a futile effort. Nothing came out. Therefore all the 126 Dalit families, along with all their belongings and cattle, moved to the Mini Secretariat of Hisar district and started their protest demonstration.

bhag__89Recalling what happened with them, a Dalit youngster Surender Sandhu tells us "We came here to get justice but soon we realized that this administration is more oppressive than the Jats. When they understood that we will not leave the Mini Secretariat without getting justice then instead of attempting to give us justice they gave us advice to go back to the village. They locked up the toilets and stopped the supply of water as well".

Surender further says, "During this protest, a few Dalit and social organizations expressed their solidarity. Initially, the BSP's State unit helped them and in their leadership we burnt the effigy of the Chief Minister. But this act resulted in making the situation worse as the State Government imposed the charge of sedition on us which is an non-bailable offense and can lead to life imprisonment. After that incident, the BSP has not tried to contact us until now. Maybe their objectives were different. However, lots of 'mediators' approached us in this duration. Thankfully, the central minister Selja came here and met the administration and through her efforts the state withdrew the case of sedition against us, at least".

bhag__50

When asked about the organizations who had supported them in Delhi, he said that they got the support of Mr. Jay Bhagwan Jatav (Dalit Activist), Documentary Filmmaker Nikhil Sablania, Jai Prakash, Ved Pal Tanvar, Bal Kishan Mahar, Vijay Somani, S.L. Dhani, Ramesh Bhangi and Surendra Sagar who helped them in every possible way. But no Dalit NGO has come forward so far to support their demands.

bhag__63In this regard, Mr. Jai Bhagwan Jatav said, "The work of NGO is to click photographs of Dalits to get funding, therefore, to look at them for support on real issues is meaningless".

All the demonstrators, comprising of both young and older people, sat half-naked at Jantar Mantar in protest against discrimination, from morning till evening, every day since their agitation began in Delhi. However, as it is required under law to vacate Jantar Mantar in the evening, they had to move to Dr. Ambedkar Bhawan every day to spend the night there.

The media has not paid any notice to this very sensitive issue until now. But Mr. Nikhil Sablania is determined to make all efforts to bring the issue into the wider public domain. He has been displaying the videos and pictures of the protest demonstrations and the issues involved on Facebook and through other alternative media. Nikhil has now brought us a new, very shocking and sad news about the plight of the protesting Dalits: "Now, even the administration of Ambedkar Bhawan has thrown up their hands expressing their unwillingness to accommodate the demonstrators fighting against discrimination in the Bhawan whereas it was built during the time of Dr. Ambedkar for the express purpose of supporting Dalit programs and movements. But today it seems to stand against Dalits, Adivasis and Bahujans".

bhag__70Despite all these problems and the indifference of the Dalit political parties and progressive left organizations, these Dalits from Haryana have refused take a U turn and are determined to fight for justice.

If you want to express your support for these courageous Dalit protesters please join their demonstration on any given day, from morning till seven in the evening. For more details, please contact Sanjay Boudh @ 0980 240 2395 or Surendra Singh Sandhu @ 0868 590 7692.

~~~

bhag__56_copy

Main Dalit hoon


bhag__78

On the road from Bhagana


bhag__91

The State questions but doesn't listen


bhag__72

Among the few who listened

 

bhag__21

Eat, sleep..agitate under the stars


bhag__66

Also educate..


bhag__45

And organize..


bhag__23

Ignored, threatened, locked out


bhag_8

But still defiant

~~~

Please read the original Hindi version of this article at Neel Kranti.

Pictures courtesy: Nikhil Sablania and Gurinder Azad.  

Other Related Articles

Why the Sangh needs Ram Nath Kovind
Wednesday, 21 June 2017
  Mangesh Dahiwale The President of India is a ceremonial post. It is often compared with the "rubber stamp". But as the head of state, it is also a prestigious post. The orders are issued in... Read More...
Ram Nath Kovind is not a Dalit, Dalit is a Spring of Political Consciousness
Tuesday, 20 June 2017
  Saidalavi P.C. The propaganda minister in Nazi Germany, Joseph Goebbels was so sharp in his thinking that we have come to quote his famous aphorism regarding the plausibility of a lie being... Read More...
'The Manu Smriti mafia still haunts us': A speech by a Pakistani Dalit Rights Leader
Thursday, 15 June 2017
  Surendar Valasai Probably the first comprehensive political statement for Dalit rights in Pakistan framed in the vocabulary of Dalitism was given in 2007 by Surendar Valasai, who is now the... Read More...
यूजीसी के इस फैसले से बदल जाएगा भारत में उच्च शिक्षा का परिदृश्य
Thursday, 15 June 2017
  अरविंद कुमार और दिलीप मंडल 'नीयत' यानी इंटेंशन अगर सही नहीं हो तो... Read More...
An Appeal by Adivasi Dalit Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh
Tuesday, 13 June 2017
  Adivasi Dalit Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Appeal by Adivasi Dalit Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Raigarh13 June 2017 Dear friends in Media and Civil Society, Displacement without consent is a crime!... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

The Death of a Historian in Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
Sunday, 19 March 2017
  Jitendra Suna Speech made at the protest by BAPSA on 16th March, 2017 against the Institutional Murder of Muthukrishnan (Rajini Krish) I am Jitendra Suna, and I am from a remote village named... Read More...
I Will Not Exit Your House Without Letting You Know That I am a Dalit
Thursday, 02 March 2017
  Riya Singh Yes, I am assertive. Assertive of my caste identity. It is not a 'fashion statement' trust me, it takes a lot of courage and training of your own self to be this assertive. You... Read More...
How egalitarian is EPW?
Thursday, 12 January 2017
  Dilip Mandal "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." – Barack Hussain Obama, quoting... Read More...
Kishori Amonkar: Assertion, Erasure, Reclamation
Wednesday, 12 April 2017
   Rohan Arthur Hindustani vocalist Kishori Amonkar passed away on 3rd April, 2017. Kishori Amonkar is remembered for her contribution to Hindustani classical music, and her passing was... Read More...
On the Anxieties surrounding Dalit Muslim Unity
Friday, 17 February 2017
  Ambedkar Reading Group Delhi University  Recently we saw the coming together of Dalits and Muslims at the ground level, against a common enemy - the Hindu, Brahminical State and Culture -... Read More...