In Punjab, upper castes, mostly Jat Sikhs, dominate the farming landscape. They are trying to take the reserved land on lease under the name of dummy bidders, who work as their helper. The Dalit families have been spending money to pay for the expenses of land.
The joint farming technique being adopted by Dalit landless families in several villages on reserved common land in Sangrur district of Punjab has helped many families in getting wheat for consumption and additional income.
These Dalit families have acquired reserved land on ‘annual lease’ by spending some money from their own pocket.
The success which was achieved by the Dalit families has motivated more such families in various villages to follow suit. But there are some upper castes families who are trying to take the reserved land on lease under the name of dummy bidders, who work as their helper. The Dalit families have been spending money to pay for the expenses of land.
Avtar Singh, a member of Balad Kalan panchayat said, “Like past years, this time also joint cultivation has come to the rescue of around 188 landless Dalits, who have taken 93 acres of reserved panchayat land jointly on annual lease.
Every family has got 5 quintal wheat and the remaining crop will be sold. All families will get their share of profit also”.
Joint farming is very common these days. At Jhaneri village, too, 64 Dalit families are engaged in joint farming on 13 acres. Similarly, at Batriana, Gharachon, and other villages, these families have formed groups and are reaping the benefit.
Gurmeet Singh, a resident of Gharachon said that “Earlier upper-caste families used to take reserved land on annual lease under the name of their helper by showing them as bidders. But now, landless Dalits are coming forward to take land on lease to cultivate crops.”
Mukesh Malaud who is the President of Zameen Prapati Sangharash Committee said that “Landless Dalits have proved that joint farming is the best way to provide food to all. Yet they face serious problems during an auction of reserved land in villages as upper-caste landlords use dummy bidders to take it. The Punjab Government should come up with a policy to ensure only landless Dalits get the reserved land on annual lease.”
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