In Sangrur, Dalit face ostracisation, death and Jail for demanding land

By Pritam Singh Tinna,

For the past few weeks, most of the attention towards Punjab has been regarding the upcoming elections, and whether the incumbent Badal government will win another term or not.

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But for the Dalit residents of village Jaloor, district Sangrur, election talk can wait for now. For the past few years, the Dalits of this village have been trying, to claim what is rightly theirs but it seems that the authorities are also hell bent on denying them to same.

This village has in total 600 families out of which 200-250 families are Dalits. Even though the village land constitute os 2,300 acres, all Dalit families are landless.


There is a land of 50 acres, categorised as Panchayat land. According to Zameen Prapti Sangharsh committee, an organisation that has been working with the Dalits of this village, one-third of this land is reserved for Dalit households. However, in the past the local authorities have tried to auction this portion of land, against which the Dalit families protested. The authorities also tried to sow paddy on this portion, so Dalit families cut the crop towards the end of September this year.

Following the struggle to claim the land, the Dalits of the village protested outside the SDM office on October 5. However, when they reached the place, almost 50 upper caste drunken men came with axes and were conspiring to attack Dalit families.


The information about the possibility of this attack was given to the SDM and the police workers were given orders to ensure safety of Dalit families. But the police workers did not enter the village along with Dalit families. Things got worse when the upper-caste villagers pelted the Dalits with stones and bricks.

But what was more shocking, was that there was an announcement in the local gurudwara, following which the attacks on Dalits intensified.

Upper caste Individuals picked some of the Dalits, who were then taken to the house of Gurdeep Baban (The prime accused) house and beaten up. Videos of this were filmed shared on the social media. The vehicles belonging to the Dalits were also destroyed.


The prime target of this attack was the house of Balwir Singh and Balwinder Singh, leaders of the Dalit movement. The attackers did not even spare the 70-year-old mother of Balwinder Singh.

Mata Gurdev Kaur, who was alone in the home, was attacked and her leg was chopped off. She later died in a hospital while being treated.


Finally, when the police decided to act, they arrested the Dalit men instead of the upper castes.

Tejinder Singh, SHO, Lehra threatened Balwir Singh. He told him, “It seemed that your mother would die and it would become a cause of insult for you in the village. The villagers had gone to kill your college-going child Kamal. Now get a room for your child somewhere outside and we would get the matter solved.”


However, the very next day the ostracisation of Dalits started. It was announced through the Gurudwara speaker that a fight had started with “churhas and chamars” of the village, and that nobody would give ‘chara’ to Dalit families to feed their animals . Nobody would enter the farms of Dalits and people violating the orders would be fined Rs 8,000. The diktat also said that all flour mills and schools would henceforth be closed for Dalits.

A temporary Sfayi karmachari , Darshan Kaur has been working in the school for years was asked not to come again by the school authorities .

While in Jail, Balwinder Singh wrote about the incident and said that the root cause of all this problem is Brahminism. “whatsoever religion one may enter into, this caste arrogance does not go, even when sitting in the house of God ( Gurudwara ) one may recite ‘sarbat da bhala’; even when one(upper caste) tastes Amrit from the same bowl, they are not willing to give equality to Dalits. The most disappointing here is what happened in Gurudwara, against the children of Guru Ravidaas ji. Day and night announcements were made . Shri Akal Takht should take notice that Gurudwaras shall not be used against the ones who have given so many sacrifices and who are oppressed everyday. Gurudwaras should become the guards of people.”


The death of Mata Gurdev Kaur has ignited the protests again in the region. Kamal deep Jhaloor, son of Balwinder Jhaloor said, “My grandmother Mata Gurdev kaur has now become an Icon for the people of Punjab. Protests demanding the arrest of the killers of Gurdev Kaur are being taken place and last week, we protested in front of the house of Parminder Singh Dhinds, Finance Minister of Punjab.”

Balwinder Jhaloor, who is now out of jail, said the protests will continue until the demands of the Dalits are met. Given that elections are round the corner, it remains to be seen how the political parties will handle the situation.