Bant Singh - Urgent!
- Dear friends:
Please look at the following appeal we have received from the Forum
for Democrative Initiatives in New Delhi. It reminds us of the
courageous man Bant Singh, a Dalit and an activist for the
Agricultural Labourers Association in Punjab. Back in July 2002 his
daughter Baljit Kaur was gang-raped. Bant Singh and his daughter
Baljit decided to decided to wage a struggle against the rapists. For
a whole month the police would not even file a case; the village
panchayat (council) dominaed by powerful upper-caste locals put
pressures on the father and the daughter, not to press for legal
cases. They persevered. Ultimately they won the legal battle. The
rapists were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
But the village powerfuls didn't leave Bant Singh alone. Three times
he was assaulted by their hit-men, in August 2005, December 2005, and
on January 5, 2006. The last one was a deadly one. Both his arms and
one leg had to be amputated. But Bant Singh is holding out. "They have
taken away my limbs, not my spirit and not my voice". He still holds
rallies and sings peoples songs.
For details on the incident, petition and protests, newspaper reports
following it, please see
St. Stephen's Hospital in Delhi is willing to medically rehabilitate
Bant Singh, with artificial limbs. This needs big funds.
We urge you to salute this courageous and indomitable fighter by
giving what you can. All the details are in the message below. There
are pictures of him and also of his daughter, with her own statement,
in the link above.
Early this year, we had sent you information about the barbaric,
gruesome attack on Bant Singh, a dalit singer and leader of AIALA, the
organization of agrarian labour, in Punjab. You had also signed the
petition and expressed solidarity. A pdf file with details is also
attached with this email.
As you may know Bant Singh has shown exemplary courage in the face of
extreme adversity. He refused to surrender to the demands of the caste
panchayat when they asked him to drop the case against the rapists of
his minor daughter. He relentlessly pursued legal justice by declaring
that the struggle that he pursued for his daughter was also the
struggle for the dignity of similarly oppressed dalit women. He
continued to organize agricultural workers for their rights and wages
brushing aside dangers to his person. And when his arms and legs were
smashed to a pulp (and subsequently amputated) by politically powerful
landlords he comforted his friends and said, "They have taken my limbs
but I've got my voice - I can still sing!"
Medical Rehabilitation of Bant Singh
While Bant Singh continues to defy the fetters imposed by disability
following the barbaric assault, he is currently facing several
difficulties. He is unable to move on his own, a surgery is pending in
the leg that was left intact but dysfunctional. He has 8 very young
children to look after; his piggery-the work that had freed him from
the feudal bonds of being tied to the landlords' fields-has collapsed
and there are multiple medical complications.
What needs to be done
Bant Singh's courage will be a source of inspiration to all but we
need not be mere spectators to the tragedy unleashed on him. We can
express our solidarity by helping him access the best possible medical
rehabilitation, so that he is back on his feet. Doctors have pointed
out that with the current developments in medical technology, it would
not be impossible to fix artificial limbs, both arms and legs, for
him. Given the nature of amputation and the extent of prosthetic aids
required, it is an expensive procedure but this is also necessary to
prevent his organs from getting atrophied.
The St. Stephen's Hospital, Delhi, is attempting to medically
rehabilitate Bant Singh. While this procedure has started, there is an
urgent need for funds so that the best possible prosthetic aids can be
acquired for him. We urgently seek your financial support for this
Bant Singh's rehabilitation would give all struggling people immense
courage and hope. We owe it to Bant Singh to enable him to walk again.
You can draw your cheque/ DD in favour of AIALA, and send it to U-90,
Shakarpur, Delhi 110 092.
For further details and queries on nature of contribution, you could
Forum for Democratic Initiatives
fdidelhi@... , fdi_delhi@...
9868038981/ 9811625577 / 9910074470 / 9818416968/ 9818514952