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Tuesday 28 January 2020

Dalit worker in Punjab succumbs to barbaric attack

The attackers thrashed Jagmel Singh, a construction worker and Dalit, with rods, plucked his flesh with pliers and forced him to drink urine

A spine-chilling, barbaric act of four antisocial elements in Sangrur, Punjab, has led to the death of their target, a Dalit construction labourer. His condition deteriorated even after both his legs had to be amputated at the Chandigarh PGI. Jagmail Singh died this afternoon at the hospital. Doctors say his condition had suddenly worsened in the morning.

The incident took place on 7 November but the police have just initiated action.

Young Jagmail Singh belonging to a Dalit family in village Changaliwala was tied to a pillar, beaten with iron rods, his flesh plucked with implements like pliers and subjected him to indescribable barbarism until he was rescued by some friends who took him to the Chandigarh PGI. Given the gangrenous condition of his legs, the doctors had to amputate both his legs on Friday. For a while, his condition seemed to be improving, but on Saturday it deteriorated.

According to doctors, the plucking of the flesh in his legs had led to severe infection. The legs had to be amputated, they said. One leg was severed from the thigh and the other from below the knee.

The police have arrested the four suspects and secured their police custody for four days.

The four accused miscreants had been roaming in the village after committing the crime even as the Dalit man’s wife ran from pillar to post for justice.

DSP Buta Singh of Lehragaga said that a case of abduction, wrongful confinement, attempt to commit culpable homicide and voluntarily causing hurt under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and SC-ST Act has been registered against those who attacked Jagmail Singh.

The accused have been identified as Rinku Singh, Amarjeet Singh, Lucky and Binder.

Manjeet Kaur, the victim’s wife, said that the accused brutally assaulted her husband. “They hit his legs with rods sticks and pulled flesh out of his thighs with a sharp tool, for which my husband’s legs had to be amputated and still he lost his life,” she said. “My husband died of torture. The police must take the harshest action possible against the attackers and give me justice,” Kaur said, breaking down.

The Punjab State Scheduled Castes Commission has called for a report on the case. The report has to be submitted by 28 November. The commission chairperson Tejinder Kaur said it had taken the matter very seriously.

Poonam Kangra, a member of the SC commission, said that the accused would be delivered the harshest punishment possible by law. “No relaxation will be tolerated. The commission is with the victim and will offer the family all possible help,” she said.

On 7 November, some people caught 37-year-old Jagmail Singh to settle scores over some mutual rivalry and took him to a house. There, they tied the young man to a pillar and beat him severely with rods and sticks for three hours. During the torture, when Jagmail pleaded for some water, they brought a container and forced him to urinate in it and then drink the urine. They tormented him by plucking flesh from his thighs using pliers.

On hearing from some neighbours about the abduction, Jagmail’s friends and family members rushed to the spot and rescued him from the goons.

Before dying, Jagmail said he had a dispute with some people in the village on 21 October. An agreement was, however, reached at the local panchayat, but his detractors were not happy with the ruling of the panches.

The Dalit victim said that on 7 November, while he was at the house of panch Gurdial Singh in the village, Rinku, Lucky, Goli, Bitta and Binder Singh came there and took him to Rinku’s house. Amarjit Singh of the village was present there.

Jagmail said he was tied to a pillar and beaten with rods and sticks. When he asked for water, he was forced to drink his urine. After about three hours, his friend Ladi brought other people there and rescued him.

The victim somehow reached home but his condition worsened. Her wife got her admitted to the Civil Hospital in Sangrur with the help of some villagers. From there, he was referred to Patiala and finally Chandigarh PGI.

Manjeet Kaur said Jagmail’s thighs had been pierced and attempts were made to pull his toes out with pliers. Jagmel had told her he had lost consciousness a few times while enduring the torture. He had told his wife they would force him back to his senses and beat him again until his friends rescued him from the spot.

Jagmail Singh is survived by his wife, two daughters and a minor son.

“We want strict action against the culprits and the government should compensate the family. A member of the family should be given a government job on humanitarian grounds,” said Bikkar Singh, the district chief of Dalit outfit Zameen Prapti Sangharsh Committee.

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