English: House of Dalit

English: House of Dalit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I P Singh, TNN Jun 18, 2012,

PHAGWARA: Dalit residents of Mahan Singh Wala village in Sangrur district working as farm labourers have approached the Punjab Scheduled Caste Commission after jats not only passed a resolution imposing wages for various menial jobs but also warned them of social boycott if the rules are breached.

The resolution, which reeks of caste-based discrimination, has been passed under the name of the village panchayat. Pamphlets spelling out the rules have been pasted on the walls in the village.

A delegation of dalits led by Dalit Dastaan Virodhi Andolan patron Jai Singh met Punjab SC Commission member Dalip Singh Pandhi here on Sunday. “The commission will issue a notice to Sangrur deputy commissioner seeking a detailed report on the issue. Prima facie it is an objectionable act violating various provisions of the Constitution and a suitable action would be taken soon,” Pandhi told TOI.

Daily wages of women labourers have been fixed at rates lower than men and 10 hours’ work a day has been set for the fair sex. It has also been mandated that if some seeri (permanent labour working for a family for generations) works outside the village, he would face social boycott and will not be given any help during crisis. Even if a seeri meets with an accident or suffers from poisonous inhalation while spraying pesticide/insecticide, he wouldn’t be given any compensation.

“If a seeri is employed on a monthly basis, he would be paid a minimum Rs 5,000 and maximum Rs 6,000 wage and would have to stay at the farmer’s place in the night till the employer wishes,” a condition reads.

Wages for paddy transplantation has been fixed at Rs 1,500 per acre. Notably, even the migrant labourers are charging Rs 2,500 to 3,000 per acre due to shortage of workers.

The resolution points out that that if there is a death in the family of a laagi (lower caste people who do petty jobs), he/she can collect milk door to door but no farmer (read Jat) would take milk to his/her house.

Jai Singh, who led the delegation, said that this resolution was not only seeking to perpetuate caste-based bias but was also a desperate attempt to keep the wages under strict control by using social and economic domination.

Former village Sarpanch Pal Singh and current panchayat member Sukhwinder Singh said this resolution was passed by a group of land owners, and not the elected panchayat.

When contacted, Mahan Singh Wala Numberdar Gurdeep Singh, one of the members who scripted the resolution, admitted that this has been implemented in the village. He revealed that in the neighbouring Khokhar village, such a rule has been enforced.