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


Anonymous Anonymous said...

have been kept in touch with this situation through my friends. At first i became aware of this story through a local Indian newspaper here in Vancouver. The story was submitted by a very hard working social justice activist here in Canada, Yash Paul Mahey. I have collected some money from my friends. I cooked the food along with another friend and all donated money. I have fours hundred dollars to give towards the Rehab. of Mr Bant singh. First i thought oh.. that is not hard.. people will donate very quickly.. this is such a tragic case.. but oh.. people,, rather pay hudnred dollars to go see some actor of asinger.. who probably promotes the caste system. glorifies the Jat.. and the top Brahimin.. than..helping a victim.. who is oppressed by the same peopl. I know i know.. i am not making any sense, but,,the bottom line is until.. the oppressed people of india are not served justic, not treated with fair wages, are not seen as equal.. the world of india will not abe a better place... the big houses can have twenty servants, the door keepers, the cooks,,, but one day perhaps in my life time.. the tables will turn.. with our blessings.... the Dalit.. the oppressed brothers and sisters will rise above the disgrace that our forefathers and mothers.. have wroght upon them.. i wish..t he new year will bring more courage, more emotional power, more confidence and more spirit among our down trodden brothers and sisters.. i cannot say that all we can do is pray... the prayer has not worked.. we need action.. and we.. the so called upper class people need to speak up... and challenge our own belief systems.. this challenge can starte perhaps with interrupting a conversation with our friends/ relatives,,, and stopping them fromsaying.. things such .. as u r acting like a Chamar, or chura.. or the color does not suit you.. etc.. these are little things.. but trust me.. these small actions on our behaf.. will stop and make allof us think.. one of my good friends.. came from some us.. city where lots of indian people reside.. she commented how. people there liv elike chureas...and chamars..she said there kids are running around in the negihbour hood without shoes.. and just not well kept.. well..,, the discussion persued.. on the reasons why.. the children of the Dalit people in india... in our own little punjab.. had not money for enough clothing. shoes...a because these kids parent are working in our fields allday.. or mothers are cleanign the bufflow dung. ini the morning to make cakes.. for our fuel... and then running home.. to perhaps feed the kdis.. whatever.. we have given,, no have thrown in their cupped hand,,probaly not the most healthy meal.. and then the mothers are probalby readyto go someone else's house to do the mornign dishes.. or the afternoon dishes.. and then hopefully they will coome home.. and spend th enight.. tired.. .. with these kids.. did they have time.. all day.. to see if their kdis have shoes,, proper clothing.. these people' live are " survial" and no time to dream... anyways... my point is that we all need to begin very small... whoever is speaking up. not just from the Dalit community but from the so called upper castes,, bravo,, and u have my blessings...

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