Punjab: Gram panchayat booked for forcing Dalit to leave village


BATHINDA: A case has been registered against a village panchayat for forced eviction of a Dalit over allegations of burglary.

Ram Singh, a Dalit who was banished from Virk Kalan village, had approached the Punjab State Scheduled Castes Commission for help after the panchayat issued a notice last February, asking him to leave the village in seven days.

Police registered the case on Saturday, following the commission’s April 19 order to the Bathinda deputy commissioner and the SSP to initiate disciplinary action on the complaint. Bathinda SSP Bhupinderjit Singh Virk said the case has been registered as per the recommendation of the commission. As the SC/ST Act is not made out against persons belonging to Scheduled Castes, it will be investigated how many panchayat members are Dalits and those from the general category will be booked.

Filed under Section 3(1)(z) of Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015, the case pertains to forcing or causing a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe to leave his house, village or other place of residence.

The commission has also directed the social justice, empowerment and minorities department to provide compensation to the victim under the compensation policy.

The commission’s two-member team had visited the village and found the facts of the complaint to be true. Ram Singh, who worked as a labourer, used to do sewa at the village dera, from where an ox was stolen on the night of February 10. A case was registered against him and an unknown person. Ram Singh was arrested and sent to judicial custody. In the meanwhile, the village panchayat issued a written notice on February 29, 2020, asking his family to either leave the village in seven days or face forced ouster.

As Ram Singh was in jail, his wife, daughter, and son left the village on March 5 and began staying at Jawaherewala village in Muktsar. Since his daughter was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer applications and his son was in Class XII, they had to face harassment in continuing their studies.

After getting bail, Ram Singh filed complaints with the district administration and the commission. “We suffered a lot during this one year and studies of the children too were badly disturbed. The family had to face a stigma and stay away from home,” he said. Village sarpanch Gurcharan Singh said the panchayat members and villagers had collectively taken the decision after Ram Singh was accused of theft.

This story first appeared on m.timesofindia.com

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