Lal Singh Dil grew up facing the isolation, indignities and insults heaped upon the ‘low castes’. He became a part of the Naxalite movement in Punjab hoping that the revolution would bring about social and economic equality, liberating him, and millions like him, from the curse of social exclusion and economic deprivation. But the revolution never happened, the movement died down, and he lived and died excluded and marginalized.
His poems in MPT Transitions bring out the nothingness of the lives of the people he was familiar with, he being one of them – the low-caste landless labourers and daily wagers, street hawkers and nomads of all varieties, moving from place to place like animals foraging for food, men and women toiling in others’ fields for almost nothing, grazing their cattle.
Defiant and uncompromising in their stance, they also symbolize the rising self-assertion, in the 21st century, among these communities, under the generic term dalit (oppressed), which they employ as one of pride in contrast to the terms like Shudra, untouchables, scheduled castes and tribes, or harijans, still often used but now regarded as pejorative and even offensive.