Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Enough! Dalits in Punjab Fight Back

In a case that highlights the continuing exploitation of landless dalits in Punjab by a feudal socio-economic structure — often abetted by the State and the vernacular media — three minor dalit girls in Mansa were falsely accused of theft and beaten by the local police in an attempt to force them to admit to a crime they did not commit. However, landless dalits in the Malwa region of Punjab are fighting back against entrenched feudal exploitation.

Mansa has been roiled for the last two weeks by the case of an alleged theft of 10 tolas (120 grams) of gold by three dalit girls who worked as domestic helps at the residence of Labh Singh, an upper-caste Jat Sikh landlord in the village of Attla Kalan. Local police now admit that the three girls are innocent and the prime suspect is in fact Labh Singh’s daughter-in-law Ranjit Kaur.

Tehelka, June 13