[Marxism] Urgent Petition: Barbaric assault on Dalit agricultural labour activist (text)

CPI (ML) Intl Liaison Office cpiml_elo at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 5 07:39:39 MST 2006


Dear Friends,

We hope you will take the time to sign the petition
protesting about  the horrific attack on Dalit
agricultural labour activist Bant Singh whose crime
was bringing the rapists of his minor daughter to
justice (see details below) to access and sign the
petition click on:

http://new.petitiononline.com/Bant06/petition.html


Funds are urgently needed for Bant Singh’s medical
treatment. If you are based in Britain, you can
contribute by sending a cheque made out to South Asia
Solidarity Group, marked on the back “Bant Singh
treatment fund”. Please send the cheques to South Asia
Solidarity Group c/o LONDEC, 293-299 Kentish Town
Road, London NW5 2TJ. Alternatively you can send a
money order from anywhere in the world directly to the
AIALA  c/o CPI (ML) Central Office, U-90, Shakarpur,
Delhi 110092, India and mark it “Bant Singh Treatment
Fund”.  

South Asia Solidarity Group


Excerpts from Liberation, Central Organ of CPI(ML):

‘They’ve only got my limbs, I’ve still got my voice –
I can still sing!’: 

Agrarian Labour Under Assault 

As the AIALA prepares for its National Conference, the
mutilation of the limbs of Bant Singh by
Congress-backed Jat goons in Punjab has underlined the
way in which feudal violence is desperate to punish
every assertion of rights and dignity by agrarian
labourers, most of whom are Dalit. 

Two hands and a leg amputated. The remaining limb yet
to heal, has turned gangrenous and may also have to be
removed. His kidneys have been damaged due to
excessive bleeding and he can hardly eat and digest
any food.

And yet defiance still sparkles in the eyes of Bant
Singh, a Dalit agricultural labour activist of the All
India Agrarian Labour Association (AIALA), as he lies
in the trauma ward of a state-run hospital in
Chandigarh where doctors are battling to save his only
remaining leg and even his life.

It is precisely for this defiance, coming from a
‘lower caste’ Dalit, that Bant Singh from Jhabhar
village of Mansa district in Punjab was beaten to pulp
and left for dead by Jat men armed with axes around a
fortnight ago.

Apart from his activities organizing agricultural
workers, Bant Singh’s greatest ’sin’, in the eyes of
the Sarpanch and former Sarpanch of his village, was
the long running battle for justice against the men
who raped his minor daughter, Baljit Kaur in 2002.
Bant Singh waited for over a month for the local
panchayat to deliver justice for his daughter. The
panchayat passed their judgement: Baljit Kaur must
marry one of her rapists who was a Dalit, and all the
rapists, including one Jat man, were to go scot free.
Bant Singh refused to agree to condemn his daughter to
life-long rape, and filed a court case, in defiance of
the panchayat decree. Braving both threats of violence
and attempted bribes, he and his daughter stood firmly
with their struggle for justice. In the process, they
drew closer to the CPI(ML) and its Mazdoor Mukti
Morcha, which supported their struggle, and
eventually, in 2004, Justice GK Rai, the Additional
Sessions Judge of Mansa, passed a strongly worded
judgement sentencing three of the rapists for life.

On the evening of January 5, 2006, as Bant Singh
returned home after campaigning and collecting funds
for the National Conference of AIALA at Andhra
Pradesh, at which he was to be one of the delegates
from Punjab, the Jats sought revenge for his defiance
and his dignity. 

Walking through the wheat fields, Bant Singh was
waylaid by a gang of seven men, sent by Jaswant and
Niranjan Singh, the current and former Sarpanches of
Jhabbar village. One of them brandished a revolver to
prevent any resistance while the other six set upon
him with iron rods and axes beating him to pulp.

Just after leaving him for dead, the attackers called
up Beant Singh, another former sarpanch from Bant
Singh’s village to come and pick up the body. Even
this was not the end of the torment heaped on this
40-year-old father of eight children and the only
earning member in the family.

At the Mansa Civil Hospital where Bant Singh was taken
soon after the attack, Purushottam Goel, the doctor
who admitted the patient, demanded a bribe and did not
even care to provide treatment for 36 full hours. Bant
Singh was bandaged only on the January 7, and the next
day his attendants were told that the hospital lacked
facilities to treat him and so he should be removed to
some other hospital. By the time Bant Singh was
shifted to the PGI, Chandigarh, it was too late to
save two of his hands and leg.

The assault on Bant Singh has exploded the myth that
massacres of Dalits only happened in the hinterland of
backward Bihar – not in ‘developed’ capitalist Punjab,
harvesting the green gold of the Green Revolution.
Bant Singh’s story reveals the sordid reality behind
the media image of the prosperous Punjab farmer on his
tractor in a mustard field. Green revolution
technology and ‘development’ has clearly failed to
erode feudal social relations – on the contrary,
feudal brutality has intensified in the wake of the
crisis faced by the farmers themselves. Agrarian
development in Punjab has not resulted in
democratization – rather, it has concentrated land and
resources in the hands of a small set of families
close to the ruling class parties – Congress and Akali
Dal. Sarpanch Jaswant Singh owns 60 acres of land, and
all the accused own above 20 acres, and have a track
record of ceiling violations and illegal grabbing of
land. Agrarian labour, at the bottom of the ladder
face destitution and desperate unemployment – along
with social boycotts and brutal attacks on the basis
of caste. Social dignity for Dalits remains a burning
issue in Punjab – just as much as it is in Bihar or
UP. 

Bant Singh is known in his village and among his
comrades as a singer of rousing protest songs. When
his comrades met Bant Singh in hospital, they broke
down – but Bant Singh told them, ‘They’ve only got my
limbs, I’ve still got my voice – I can still sing!’ As
we salute Bant Singh’s courage and his spirit, as we
feel outrage and anger at the brutality unleashed on
him and his family of 8 children in which he is the
only earning member, it seems that today’s Ekalavyas
are not willing to give up their rights as ‘dakshina’
– and mutilation and barbarism can’t silence their
songs and crush their spirit of resistance. 



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