Protest Against Attack on Bant Singh Continues

  The struggle to bring Bant Singh's attackers to justice and make the State Government take responsibility for his treatment and compensation continues. Till date, the Amrinder Singh Government only offered a paltry token sum of a lakh, which was refused by Bant Singh and his family. On 25 January, people had gheraoed the District Headquarters at Mansa, and then declared their intention to gherao the State Assembly at Chandigarh on March 3.

Bant Singh's struggle has also inspired a tremendous response from people far and wide. A team of filmmakers, journalists, teachers and others from the Forum for Democratic Initiatives (FDI) had visited Punjab , and then launched a campaign for justice for Bant Singh. The London-based South Asia Solidarity Group submitted a petition Manmohan Singh as well as Amrinder Singh, signed by over 500 prominent individuals. This petition, in addition to demanding that the perpetrators be brought to book and that the Punjab Government take responsibility for compensation and rehabilitation of Bant Singh, expressed deep concern at “the attempts by senior police officials to dismiss any link between the attacks on Bant Singh and his courageous struggle against those who raped his minor daughter in 2002.” It observed that the “successful sentencing of the rapists to life imprisonment by a Sessions Court in 2004 is a very strong motive for the repeated assaults by upper caste men on Bant Singh over the past year, and must not be swept aside as irrelevant to the case.
5.” Also that the “Bant Singh incident is the tip of the iceberg as far as atrocities on Dalits in Punjab are concerned. Apart from the severe economic exploitation of Dalits, who form a very large percentage of all agricultural labour in the state, there is systematic sexual exploitation of Dalit women”, and recommended that the SC/ST Commission, the National Human Rights Commission as well as the National Women's Commission conduct an immediate inquiry. On March 3, on the same day as the gherao of the Assembly at Chandigarh , a protest will also be held at the Indian High Commission in London .