Hundreds of Dalit families in a village in Punjab’s Dhuri are left to suffer after the upper caste community passed a diktat ostracizing them for demanding an increase in their daily wage by a mere Rs 50.Ironically, the unsocial announcement by majority non-Dalit community of village Dhandiwal came after landlords resisted this wage revision from Rs 250 a day to Rs 300, sources claim. The local administration has intervened to end the stalemate, but to little avail, at least so far. But authorities are hopeful of an early resolution. Dalit leaders have called for a meeting on August 7 at the district level to draw out an action plan in wake of the continuing decision to ostracize them.
The diktat prohibits all villagers from hiring Dalits in agriculture fields, bans any social interaction with their families and bars shopkeepers from selling even daily need items to Dalits staying in the village. The logjam has been continuing now for a fortnight. This unconstitutional diktat had rendered these Dalits jobless, many who were solo bread winners for the family and worked in fields to make ends meet. The diktat, sources said, comes with an overriding punishment clause as well. Anyone helping a Dalit or violating the terms of the diktat will be fined Rs 5000.Sources said Dalit families are trying hard to manage everyday provisions of grocery, milk etc clandestinely from some villagers who espouse an egalitarian philosophy but fear to speak in a different tone that may annoy their community leaders. Among the Dalits are some who use to earn a living by selling milk. The diktat has put them at the receiving end. Dalit representatives Hansraj Singh and Darshan Singh accused the government of ignoring their doleful predicament.
Punjab has the highest percentage of the Dalit population in the country- about 33% of the state population which ideally would have placed this community in a dominant position. But arguably, the lack of Dalit leadership among other factors has caused a dismal consolidation of both ideology and votes leaving Dalit to suffer such unpalatable situations. The village has a population of over 2500 inhabitants out of which nearly 500 are Dalits.
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