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Death of agricultural dalit labourer Jagmela Singh in Chandigarh

Harsh Thakor

Death of dalit agricultural labourer Jagmela Singh on November 19th in Chandigarh hospital due to brutal attack by upper caste men. On November 7th a sustained brutal attack was launched by upper caste men on agricultural labourer Jagmela Singh breaking his legs. He was subsequently admitted to the PGI in Chandigarh. Where he succumbed 9 days later. For a considerable period Jagmela was involved in a feud with upper caste members who earlier attacked his relative. They kidnapped Jagmela from his residence in Chandilewal village and forced him to consume urine which led to internal poisoning. He succumbed eventually to wounds in a Chandigarh hospital due to negligence. Immediately after his death a prolonged protest was launched outside Lehra SDM office. The victim's uncle was a leader of the Zameen prapti sangharsh commitee. Jagmela was survived by an 80-year-old mother, a 33-year-old wife Manjit Kaur daughters simranjeet, Navjot and son Tanvir. Seven years ago, Jagmela's unlcle Gurdev faced a similar assault.

After a 6-lakh compensation cheque was given by Minister Vijay Inder Sangla the victim’s body was cremated in a heart touching funeral on November 19th in Chanilewal village in Sangrur creating vibrations of setting the venue aflame. Slogans reverberated revealing rage at its crescendo, demanding justice and punishment to the culprits creating vibrations of setting the venue aflame.

Leader of Opposition (LoP) Harpal Singh Cheema said he would write to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for action against cops and doctors, who delayed the registration of an FIR and treatment of the deceased, respectively. “It is confirmed that the FIR was not registered immediately after the incident and the victim also did not get the required treatment. I will seek strict action against the erring cops and doctors,” said Cheema.

ZPSC chief Mukesh Malaud and representatives of other organisations said they would keep meeting senior officers till the fulfilment of all demands, which included filing of charge sheet within a week, punishment to the accused in three months, inquiry by an ADGP-rank officer to probe alleged negligence by cops, Rs 20 lakh compensation, Rs 1.25 lakh for repair of family’s house, six-month ration to the family, all expense of bhog, free education to all three children and a government job deceased’s wife Manjit Kaur. So far 4 of the culprits have been arrested.

A sustained protracted struggle is being launched by revolutionary democratic organizations of Punjab mainly the Zameen Prapti Sangarsh Commitee to secure justice A militant protest campaign was undertaken encompassing over 50 villages in Sangrur district as well as Moga and Patiala taking the fury of the dalit community to simmer at its boiling point with spirit of vengeance literally written on their faces. The protest areas were literally lit with red lamps. Also, very sustained solidarity programmes launched by the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union in Singhevala village Bathinda and the Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union in Sangrur. in addition to support from youth and student organizations. Solidarity was also given by organizations of the landed peasantry like the Ugrahan, Krantikari and Dakaunda factions of the Bhartiya Kisan Union as well as the Kirti Kisan Union. Very formidable integration of youth in the protests.

ZPSC convenor has pledged to launch an agitation if the 50-lakh compensation and employment opportunity is not given to the victim's family. The authorities also promised to take action against the culprits. However, they did not accept any charges of negligence which was dishonest. The victim’s wife Manjit Kaur with great resolve stated that she would not leave any stone unturned until complete justice was delivered in terms of compensation financials and workwise as well as punishment to all the culprits.

Leader of Opposition (LoP) Harpal Singh Cheema said he would write to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for action against cops and doctors, who delayed the registration of an FIR and treatment of the deceased, respectively.

“It is confirmed that the FIR was not registered immediately after the incident and the victim also did not get the required treatment. I will seek strict action against the erring cops and doctors,” said Cheema.

Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu has directed Anurag Aggarwal, Principal Secretary, Health, to probe the charges of alleged negligence on part of the medical officer concerned in providing timely treatment to Jagmale Singh. The official has been told to submit the report in three days. An official spokesperson of the Health Department said as per media reports, Jagmale Singh was initially taken to the Government Hospital and the medical officer on duty did not discharge his duty properly and did not file the MLR.

ZPSC chief Mukesh Malaud and representatives of other organisations said they would keep meeting senior officers till the fulfilment of all demands, which included filing of charge sheet within a week, punishment to the accused in three months, inquiry by an ADGP-rank officer to probe alleged negligence by cops, Rs 20 lakh compensation, Rs 1.25 lakh for repair of family’s house, six-month ration to the family, all expense of bhog, free education to all three children and a government job deceased’s wife Manjit Kaur.

What is pertinent is that Jagmela did not die an accidental death but was a victim of the negligence of the medical authorities. The assassination plot of the upper caste killers gained the patronage of ruling class politicians, being their relatives., It is not one Jagmela l but thousands of dalits who face similar fate in different forms. Democrats must bear no illusions from the promises of the representatives of the rulers who are part and parcel of the social system that perpetrates such attacks and has to be countered in its very backbone for a proper solution. Such deaths are indirectly part of the ruling class conspiracy to supress any democratic aspirations of the dalits in Punjab.

Overall the attack is a perfect illustration how castesim has deep roots in the socio-political order with the ruling classes investing every ounce of energy in patronizing the monopoly of upper castes. It throws all the more significance of the grassroots work in the dalit section at block level of the Zameen Prapti Sangharsh commitee and other agricultural labour groups to organize dalit labour for their promised rights.

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Nov 21, 2019