The Bir Sunarwala: An Uncharted Dalit Land Movement of Haryana, India

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Anand Mehra


Dalits are the lowest social group in the Indian caste hierarchy, formerly known as ‘untouchables’. They have been subjected to centuries of discrimination, violence and continue to face widespread social exclusion and economic deprivation. In rural areas, Dalits are often forced to live in segregated quarters and are denied access to common resources such as wells, temples, schools and land. They are often forced to do the most menial and degrading work, such as manual scavenging and cleaning toilets. This exclusion and humiliation are rooted in their lack of access to socio-economic capital, namely, land. As the world’s primary source of wealth, land plays a significant role in the life of rural communities, transforming into a socio-economic reality. Dalits are historically landless; in this outbreak, they participated in various land movements to access land. Landless Dalits and other agricultural labourers fought alongside peasants for better wages, land ownership and to end the practice of forced labour. However, Dalit struggles always remain subordinate to peasant struggles. In this context, this study examines Haryana’s rarely documented and majorly unknown Dalit land movement that took place in 1973 at Bir Sunarwala village of the Jhajjar district of Haryana. Additionally, this study seeks to highlight the significance of the Bir Sunarwala land movement within the broader framework of the Dalit movements in India.

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Mehra, A. (2023). The Bir Sunarwala: An Uncharted Dalit Land Movement of Haryana, India. CASTE A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 4(2), 185–195.
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