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A day at an auction

  • Sandeep Kaur, Dalits

    On 23 June at 10 am, Sandeep Kaur (far left) sat amongst a group of prospective bidders for 3.4 acres of farming land in Matoi village. Under the Punjab Village Commons Lands Act of 1961, a third of panchayati land is reserved for use by Dalits like Sandeep. Photo: Shovan Gandhi

  • Sandeep Kaur, Dalits

    Minutes into the auction, Sandeep walked out claiming the two other bidders were appearing on behalf of upper-caste Jat Sikhs. Photo: Shovan Gandhi

  • Sandeep Kaur, Dalits, Matoi

    Sandeep and her friends, who call themselves the Ekta Club, staged a protest outside Matoi's Panchayat Bhavan where the auction was underway. Photo Shovan Gandhi

  • Ekta Club, Sandeep

    The Ekta Club insisted that the auction be annulled, but the officers completed the process in Sandeep's absence and pushed through the crowd. Photo: Shovan Gandhi

  • Charanjit Singh, Matoi, Sikhs, Jat

    Matoi's former Sarpanch, Charanjit Singh (on the motorbike on the right) insisted that the dominant case Jat Sikhs had no role to play in the auction. Photo: Shovan Gandhi

  • Jats, Dalits

    Yet minutes later, a crowd of Jats attacked the Dalits who had protested against the auction. Three young men were hospitalised. Photo: Shovan Gandhi

  • Ekta Club, Sandeep

    Sandeep and the Ekta Club then went to the police station at the nearby town of Malerkotla to file a complaint against the attackers. Photo: Shovan Gandhi

  • Police, FIR

    Yet it took several hours of sloganeering outside the station before the police agreed to record their claim and file a First Information Report. Photo: Shovan Gandhi

  • Malerkotla, Police

    As the afternoon gave way to evening, a police officer arrived at the city hospital in Malerkotla to record the testimony of the victims. The investigation, the police say, will begin soon. Photo: Shovan Gandhi