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Free-for-all at Tapiala, Dalit shot deadTwo women show their destroyed houses during a bloody clash over land dispute in Tapiala village in Amritsar on Sunday. Photos: Sunil Kumar
Decades old dispute over 22 kanal land

Free-for-all at Tapiala, Dalit shot dead

Group of armed men attacks villagers, leaves several injured; over 10 persons booked21 Aug 2017 | 1:03 AM

AMRITSAR: A decades-old land dispute took an ugly turn today when a group of armed persons attacked residents in Tapiala village, leaving a Dalit shot dead.

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PK Jaiswar

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 20

A decades-old land dispute took an ugly turn today when a group of armed persons attacked residents in Tapiala village, leaving a Dalit shot dead. The deceased has been identified as Sukhdev Singh (50) while Sahib Singh, Sewa Singh, Bachan Singh, Balwinder Singh and Ranjit Singh among over 10 persons have sustained injuries. They have been admitted to different hospitals. Sahib Singh of Thathi village has sustained a bullet injury on his head and he is under treatment at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital.

According to information, the Punjab government had in 1974 acquired around 22 kanal and 15 marla of land in the village to provide residential plots to people of economically weak section of society under Indira Awas Yojana. It was allotted to around 95 families at that time.

However, Sukhbir Kaur, a resident of the village, later claimed that the land belonged to her and it was sold to the government by unscrupulous elements in a fraudulent manner. She filed a case in the court and the verdict came in her favour. But various labour unions, including Dehati Mazdoor Sabha and Jamhoori Kishan Sabha, started an agitation over the issue and decided not to vacate the land. She filed a case before the Sessions Court and later the Punjab and Haryana High Court (HC) which too delivered the judgement in her favour in June this year. The HC ordered the police to get the land vacated and hand it over to her.

Nonetheless, the labour unions did not budge and started a protest. Meanwhile, a bailiff along with a police party went to the village twice and tried to get the land vacated, but to no avail.

After being attacked, the villagers too resorted to stone pelting. Satnam Singh Ajnala of Jamhoori Kisan Sabha said the incident occurred due to the negligence of the police. “Union members had informed the Lopoke police in the morning about the gathering of some armed persons at a marriage palace near the disputed land. Notorious gangsters, including Umar Parera, members of Sarangra gang and others, armed with pistols and sharp-edged weapons gathered and were served liquor before attacking the residents,” he said.

According to Satnam, they fired indiscriminately and also resorted to stone pelting. “Had the police taken appropriate action after receiving the information, the incident would not have occurred,” he added.

Senior police officials with a heavy police force reached the spot and surrounded the village.

Members of labour unions held a demonstration outside the Lopoke police station and demanded immediate arrest of the accused.

Parampal Singh, SSP, Amritsar rural, said the police arrested Sukhbir Kaur, Gurpreet Singh of Kohali village, Manpreet Singh Kotli Aulakh village, Pawandeep, Jasbir Singh and Gurwinder Singh of Kotla Gujran. Among those booked are Sukhbir Kaur, Rupinder Singh, Amandeep Singh, Harjinder Singh, Jatinder Singh, Gurminder Singh, Buta Nath, Shamsher Singh, Jaswinder Singh, Kulwant Singh, Ajaib Singh, Prem Singh, Kunan Singh and 35-40 unidentified persons.

A case under Sections 302, 307, 452, 323, 447, 511 and 506 of the IPC and 25, 27, 54, 59 under the Arms Act and 3, 4 of Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Caste Act has been registered.

What the case is

  • The state government in 1974 acquired 22 kanal and 15 marla of land in Tapiala village to give plots to economically weak section of society. 
  • Sukhbir Kaur of same village files a court case accusing unscrupulous elements of selling her land fraudulently to the government. 
  • The local court, Sessions Court and later High Court delivered the verdict in her favour, ordering the land to be vacated.
  • Several attempts by police to vacate the land proved futile amid labour unions’ protest.
  • Sukhbir Kaur arrested today after some gangsters opened fire at villagers to get the land vacated. More than 10 persons have also been booked.
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