Monday, March 06, 2006

Down, but not out; Bant Singh holds rally

“They cannot cut through my spirit till I am alive,” stated Bant Singh, at a massive rally, organised by the Bant Singh Jabar Kand Virodhi Action Committee, today at the Plaza, Sector 17. The rally was attended by thousands of workers from all over Punjab in support of Bant Singh and his crusade. “My limbs have been cut, but not my tongue and till I am alive, I will fight for the cause of the poor,” he stated.

Talking to TNS, he said while earlier his fight was only for his family and daughter, now he was fighting for his fellow brothers. “I will now work for my fellow brothers till I live,” he stated. Not concerned about the compensation given out by the government he said, he would not rest till the guilty were punished. “They can take back their money, the compensation I want is justice,” he said.

Bant Singh, farm worker, was brutally attacked in January by seven armed men for avenging a legal battle fought by Bant Singh against certain influential persons from Jat families. Bant Singh lost both his arms and one leg in the incident. The incident was in retaliation against the conviction of those who are guilty of rape of his daughter.

The rally saw workers raising slogans against the Punjab Government for not fulfilling the demands made by the Bant Singh Jabbar Kand Virodhi Action Committee constituted by 14 organisations of agricultural labourers, industrial workers, brick-kiln workers, etc.

The members of the organisation demanded the fulfilment of their demands, which included a job for victim’s wife, allowance for his minor children, Rs 1 lakh compensation for his daughter, action against the corrupt doctor of Civil Hospital, Mansa, and SHO, Joga police station, the arrest of sarpanch Jaswant Singh for hatching the conspiracy.

The speakers also used the opportunity to stress the problems of dalits and poor peasants. They demanded that the living standard of the rural poor be improved and they should be guaranteed eight hours working day and adequate minimum wages.

The rally was addressed by among others by Mr Tarsem Jodhan (Lal Jhanda Bhatha Majdoor Union), Mr Bhagwant Singh Smaon (Majdoor Mukti Morcha), Mr Malkiat Singh (All India Centre of Trade Unions), Mr Lachman SeveWala (Punjab Khet Majdoor Union), Mr. Sukhdarshan Nat (AICCTU), Kanwaljeet Singh (All India Centre of Trade Unions), Jai Singh (Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan) Mr Atma Singh Atma, TUC Mansa, Jora Singh Nasrali (All-India Kisan Co-ordination committee among others.

Similar protests were also held today at the outside the Indian High Commission, London, UK. The protests were held by the UK based organisations, including the South Asia Solidatory groups, Indian workers’ Association, Asian women United, Punjab Human rights groups. Apart from being endorsed by a number of UK-based organisations, the petition is online and has been signed by more than 600 individuals. They have sent a letter regarding the same to the Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh.

Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, March 3