//Dalit leader says masses are awakening in Punjab

Dalit leader says masses are awakening in Punjab

Express Features Service

Ludhiana, February 24: Eminent writer and journalist Des Raj Kali today said that awakening among the Dalits of Punjab had begun and political class of the state was aware of this fact.

‘‘It is not for nothing that SAD president Parkash Singh Badal has decided to hold a dalit rally and that too in the Doaba belt of the state. Never before in his political life, Badal has held a dalit rally,’’ said Kali while talking to Newsline after he was honoured at the Kartar Singh Memorial Award Ceremony here today.

Kali has authored a short story collection Katha Kali besides three books on history titled Ghadri Ram Saran Dass Talwar, and Ghadri Bhai Randhir Singh.

‘‘Green revolution had seen the caste divide in the state getting sharper as the farmers became rich overnight. The socio-economic fabric of the state changed and caused a feeling of insecurity among lower castes and led to increased suppression.’’

The author said he had spent considerable time in understanding the political conditions which prevailed in Talhan village after caste conflict broke out there and later in Jhabbar where the Bant Singh issue surfaced.

He said the divide in the awakening of Dalits in Doaba and Malwa is very clear. In Talhan, Dalits have severed their link from land. As they are no longer land labourers, and are resisting the dominance of Jat landlords.

However in the Jhabbar area, the Dalits are still land labourers and the situation is worse in this area because even a upper-caste farmer with two-acre landholding calls himself a maharaja for this area falls near Patiala.

‘‘The oppressed in the state are coming together and whenever the opportunity will arise, as happened in Bant Singh issue, they will present united front,’’ they said. He however said that Dalit movement needed a leader.