Having stayed behind the veil for many years, Dalit women in Punjab’s Sangrur have finally begun to stand up for their rights. They have been leading protests against upper castes and the Panchayat Department, demanding 33 per cent reserved village common land on annual lease.
“It’s a fight for our self-respect. Five to six years back, in a majority of villages, upper castes, who had taken the land in the name of their Dalit servants, would cultivate the reserved land. The Dalits would have to face humiliation whenever they went even to a roadside to get fodder for animals. But now, we do not wish to remain landless,” said Nikki Kaur from Kulara village.
Parmjit Kaur, zonal secretary, Zameen Prapti Sangharsh Committee, said they had been fighting for the reserved land for Dalits in about 50 villages of the Sangrur district.
“This year, women have come in large numbers and with their support, we have succeeded in getting the reserved land for Dalits in 33 villages,” she said.
“In many villages, we have proved through joint farming that reserved land can help Dalits,” said a protester.
Bimal Kaur, district cashier, Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union, Punjab, said they were working in 40 villages of the district and had got the land allotted to Dalits in 33 villages.