Haryana has become the laboratory of Dalit oppression. Hardly a day passes without a report of oppression, atrocity or excesses against Dalits not pouring in from one part of the state or the other. The oppression becomes harsher when the Dalits refuse to comply with the absurd diktats of the panchayats. Dalits are forced to flee from their villages. On the other hand, Dalits, having become stronger, are increasingly challenging the Jats. This is entirely unacceptable to the Jats and in such cases, their oppressive machinery starts working overtime. Report on yet another instance of Dalit oppression in Bhagana village of Haryana.
A Dalit young man, Vikram was thrashed for no rhyme or reason by Jat youths in Bhagana village of Hisar district of Haryana. He was just walking through the village when casteist abuses were used to humiliate him. When the matter was raised in the village panchayat, a social boycott of all the Dalits was announced.
The victim, Vikram, says that the village shopkeepers have been threatened with a Rs.1100 fine if they sell anything to him. The members of the Jat caste, however, deny the charge.
Some Jat Caste members say that the Dalit youths were passing obscene comments on the village girls and when they were stopped, they turned abusive and started threatening that they would get the ‘Savarnas’ boys entangled in court cases. This was followed by heated arguments between the two groups. They deny that there was any violence. Some OBC residents, however, reluctantly admit that Dalit young men were beaten up. The ‘Savarnas’ and the Jats are incensed that the Dalits did not comply with the directives of the illegally-convened meeting of the panchayat.
Says Rajveer, a ‘Savarna’, “Dalits have given a bad name to this village. The panchayat comprises influential people of the entire area”. Dalits contend that they will only follow the orders of a court. Jagdish Kajala, a member of one of the families displaced due to the terror of the Jats says that “They have taken over our land in the village”. According to him, about 50 families of Bhagana had taken shelter in the mini-secretariat at Hisar but the administration was not helping them. In fact, they are being framed on false cases. Ramphal, Rameshwar, Balraj, Satish and Dharmapal – who are among the victims of the Jat terror – claim that when they demanded their rights, they were thrown behind bars. Buli and Jagdish Kajla argue that the panchayat has only Jat members. “None of the members is from amongst us. On many occasions, we were summoned before caste panchayats and when we refused to accept their decision, we were beaten up,” he says.
In a related development, the police arrested 11 persons on the charge of violating peace and obstructing a government servant from performing his duty. The arrested persons were holding a demonstration demanding that the statue of Baba Bhimrao Ambedkar on the premises of the mini-secretariat be protected from encroachers. The Dalits say that land was not the only cause of dispute. They were also fighting for their dignity. They say that Jats were sore because the Dalits no longer do ‘begar’ (forced labour) for them. A Dalit woman Resham says, “Earlier, when we did some work for the Jats, sometimes we were paid, sometimes we were not. But our youngsters are not ready for such an arrangement”.
After the latest incident, terror is very palpable on the faces of the Dalits. But they are not ready to surrender. On the other hand, the Dalits of Mirchpur, who have taken shelter at the Tanwar Farm house, are not ready to return to their village. They told senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, who is representing them in the Supreme Court, that the Dalit families which chose not to abandon their homes were worse off. Vedpal Tanwar, who owns the Tanwar Farm house and is working for the uplift of ‘Sarvajan’ says that the victims of Jat terror were feeling insecure. Even he was being framed in fake cases as he had given shelter to the Dalits. Law and order had become a mockery in Haryana. Instead of playing the role of a problem-solver, the Hooda government of Haryana was bent upon undermining constitutional provisions and eroding social harmony by giving reservations to Jats and Savarnas.
Published in the March 2013 issue of the Forward Press magazine
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