Dalits in a village in Sangrur district of Punjab have turned an age-old barbaric tradition of social boycotts by upper caste members on its head by announcing their own boycott of their tormentors.
Dalits of Namol village had been facing a social boycott for some time after they refused to become proxy bidders to upper caste members in the lease auction of government land for farming. In response they refused to work in the fields and in houses of the upper caste members, forcing the police to intervene and resolve the issue.
The state government gives out agricultural land on rent to farmers after an annual auction. A third of the land is reserved for dalits but they often don’t have the financial resources to bid and are then used as proxy by upper caste farmers. In a population of 2,000, Namol has about 600 dalits.