Dalits in Punjab's Barnala Protest Against 'Illegal' Auction of Shamlat Land

Reported by

Damandeep SinghLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

September 27, 2021

Location of Conflict

Pakho Kalan, Dhilwan and Ramgarh villages


Reason or Cause of Conflict

Caste-Based Conflict

Land auction



People Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)



Starting Year





Land Use

Punjab has about 1.4 lakh acres of shamlat land (village common land) across nearly 8,000 villages. Of this, onethird is reserved for Dalits. Members of the Dalit community in Barnala district have protested against irregularities in the auction of at least 14.5 acres of shamlat land that is reserved for them. The land spans across three villages in the district Pakho Kalan, Dhilwan and Ramgarh. According to the Punjab Village Common Land (Regulation) Rules, 1964, about 33 per cent of shamlat land is reserved for Dalits and can be auctioned only to them. This land is owned by the village panchayat and is mainly used for cultivation. The annual open auction of shamlat land is usually held in April. The Dalits of the three villages alleged that the auction in 2020 was not fair as certain influential people tampered with the auction process. Having been reserved for Dalits, nonDalits are not allowed to take part in the auction. Yet, there were reports of certain nonDalit individuals placing their helpers in the auction process to acquire land. On July 3, 2020, five Dalit youths in Pakho Kalan village protested against the irregularities in the auction for 10 days by climbing atop a water tank. They retreated when Punjab State SC Commission member Raj Kumar Hans visited the village and requested them to call off their protest. He also directed the Barnala subdivisional magistrate to hold a magisterial inquiry into the matter. The district administration declared the earlier auction null and void and cancelled further auctions** **of the shamlat land in these villages till the inquiry is complete.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Complaint against procedural violations, Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Region Classification


Type of Land


Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?


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Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Reform Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation of land-reform laws , Lack of legal protection over land rights

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest


Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

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Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

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Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
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No Images Available

Documented By

Damandeep Singh

Reviewed By

Damandeep Singh

Updated By

Damandeep Singh

Edited By

Damandeep SinghLand Conflict Watch

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