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Bhagana Dalits

Fifty dalit men have been sitting on dharna in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar from 2 July. They are here for an indefinite period till they get justice. They have marched to Delhi on foot in the hot summer, having left Hisar town in Haryana on 27 June. These men are part of the same 70 dalit families whose exodus from ­village Bhagana had been reported by the national media in the last week of May and who have camped outside the mini-Secretariat in Hisar since 23 May. They have been protesting against their vicious social boycott by the Jats in their village as well as the unauthorised take­over of common lands in the village by the Jats, and the non-implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi Basti Vikas Yojana. The refusal of Bhagana’s dalit and backward communities to passively accept the take­over of their use and ownership land rights resulted in their social boycott. When a team of the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and the Association for Demo­cratic Rights met them in Hisar on 21 June, they were concentrating their energies on resisting the pressure ­being brought to bear on them to end their protest.

PUDR is shocked and angered to find they have now been forced to resort to under­taking the padyatra as a heightened form of protest and the dharna at Delhi as no action against the guilty Jats has been ­undertaken either by the state administration, the Haryana government or the local police. On the contrary, the protesting dalits have been charged under Sections 332, 353, 186, 506 and 124A of the Indian Penal Code. All attempts at mediation have also failed as it has now become a matter of izzat for the Jats. No case has been registered against them under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act that the dalits have been demanding from the beginning. The protest in Hisar is still continuing.

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