Staff Reporter

Her father was "punished" for fighting and winning a legal battle

NEW DELHI: The young daughter of a Dalit farm labour activist, Bant Singh, whose hands and a leg had to be amputated after he was brutally thrashed allegedly by the sons of the "Sarpanch" of Jhabbar village and their accomplices at Mansa in Punjab on January 5, has demanded a compensation of Rs.10 lakhs and a job for her mother.

Speaking at a press conference organised by the Forum for Democratic Initiatives (FDI) here on Friday, the young woman said her father was "punished" for fighting and winning a legal battle in a case in which she was gang-raped in 2002, when she was a minor.

Defying the "panchayat" decision ordering her to marry one of the rapists, Bant Singh had got a case registered and the accused arrested, who were later sentenced to life imprisonment.

"Since then my father has been attacked thrice. The latest was on January 5, in which two sons of the present "Sarpanch", Jaswant, and five others attacked my father and beat him up badly. The police earlier registered a case under Section 325 of the Indian Penal Code and the accused were released on bail. It was only after the media and several organisations took up the issue that the police added sections under the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Act and other harsh sections," said the young woman, adding that she would continue to fight till she got justice.

All India Progressive Women's Association convenor Jeeta Kaur said doctors were trying to save Bant Singh's only leg but his condition was deteriorating as the leg had got infested with gangrene.

Satya Sivaraman, a journalist and member of the FDI team that probed the incident, talked about atrocities on Dalits, especially women, in Punjab. He also talked about the widespread exploitation of poor agricultural labourers there.

Others present on the occasion included Ajay Bharadwaj, a filmmaker and FDI activist, and Santosh Rai, national secretary of the All India Central Council of Trade Unions.

More In: NEW DELHI | NATIONAL