Bandh call by Dalit groups against Hathras incident hits normal life in parts of Punjab
Chandigarh: Markets and commercial establishments were closed and commuters faced inconvenience as protests were held in many parts of Punjab on Saturday as part of a statewide shutdown called by Dalit organisations against the Hathras incident.
Activists of several Dalit organisations blocked roads, held demonstrations and demanded justice for the victim’s family. Police personnel were deployed at sensitive places to maintain law and order.
The victim, a 19-year-old Dalit woman, was assaulted and allegedly raped by four men in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh on September 14. She died a fortnight later at a hospital in Delhi.
The victim was cremated in the dead of the night on September 30. While her family claimed the cremation was carried out against their wishes, the police said the last rites were held “as per the wishes of the family”.
The ‘Punjab Bandh’ was called by Dalit bodies including Bharatiya Valmiki Dharam Samaj, Ambedkar Sena Mool Nivasi, Valmiki Adi Dharam Samaj, All India Rangretta Dal, Bhagwan Valmiki Action Committee and Bheem Sena.
The maximum impact of the shutdown was witnessed in Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, and Phagwara, among other places, where shops, markets and other commercial establishments remained shut.
In Phagwara, several roads were blocked due to the bandh call, causing inconvenience to commuters.
Traffic on the main roads was diverted due to a sit-in and rally by protesters, police said.
Protesters assembled at the Bhagwan Valmiki temple in Subhash Nagar on the Phagwara-Banga road and took out a protest march in various bazaars of the city. They carried placards and raised slogans against the Uttar Pradesh government.
They also demanded death sentence for the culprits.
All India Rangretta Dal president Joginder Singh Mann and Ambedkar Sena Punjab president Harbhajan Suman addressed the protesters.
The Dalit organisations threatened to step up their stir if their demands are not met.
Shops and commercial establishments also remained closed in Hoshiarpur. However, chemists and hospitals were open.
Activists of various Valimiki Sabhas and Dalit groups led the protests in the district.
The protesters raised slogans demanding justice for the victim. They were seen taking rounds in almost all markets of the city to enforce complete shutdown.
Superintendent of Police (Investigation), Hoshiarpur, Ravinder Pal Singh Sandhu said no untoward incident was reported from any part of the district.
The bandh call was peaceful, he said.