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·       Farmer body leader Manjit Singh Dhaner was sentenced to life imprisonment in a murder case. These days he is leading farmer protests at Tikri, on the border of Delhi.

·       1956 born Dhaner is senior vice president of Bharti Kisan Union Ekta-Dakaunda, was pardoned twice, in spite of the Supreme Court upholding his sentence.

·       In 1997, a 16-year-old girl from Barnala was kidnapped, gangraped and murdered by four men – Gurpreet Singh, Jagraj Singh Raju, Pratap, and Deshraj. Dhaner a farm activist then, took up the matter.

·       Dhaner at that time formed the Mehal Kalan Action Committee to seek justice for the girl, leading to conviction of the four men, who were imprisoned for life by a sessions court in 2001.

·       Earlier when the case was heard Dhaner used to accompany victim girl’s family to the court for trial.

·       In March 2001, a fight broke out between the protesters and the supporters of the accused. One eighty five years old Dalip Singh, a relative to the accused, was injured, and died 10 days later. Dhaner alongwith two others were booked for Dalip Singh’s death.

·       Due to public outcry the state moved to withdraw the case, but the sessions court refused and, on March 30, 2005, sentenced the three men including Dhaner to life imprisonment.

·       In September 2019, for seven weeks, more than 3,000 people sat outside the Barnala jail, where Dhaner was lodged, during the day, and night, rain and sunshine.

·       42 farmer unions joined the protest naming it Sangharsh Committee for Manjit Dhaner.

·       Dhaner say ongoing protest at SInghu, Tikri and other borders of Delhi reminds of those days, but now the cause was bigger.

·       His imprisonment became a bigger issue in Punjab, joined by farmers, teachers, students, and farm labourers, forcing compelling Punjab government for a Governor’s pardon for Dhaner and three others July 2007.

·       Pardon to Dhaner, Dutt and Kumar was challenged by Dalip Singh’s family before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which set aside the governor’s order in March, 2008. On appeal, the court acquitted Dutt and Kumar but upheld Dhaner’s sentence.

·       As the issue went to the Supreme Court, it upheld the high court’s order. He was given four weeks to surrender.

·       It again led to mammoth protests in Barnala for Dhaner’s release.

·       On November 15, Punjab Governor again gave consent for pardon to Dhaner

·       He becomes the first person in state to be pardoned twice, while fighting for the people’s cause.

About the author:
Maninderjit Singh Sidhu

Maninderjit Singh Sidhu The writer, Maninderjit Singh Sidhu, is a master of systems engineering from San Jose State University, California. He worked in USA for ten year and is now back in Punjab and doing agriculture.

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