THE MAQBOOLPURA locality of Amritsar city —which hit the headlines for deaths due to drug addiction — has been asking politicians to demolish a wall, built last year, that separates it from the new residential colony developed by the Improvement Trust.
Unlike Maqboolpura, the new colony, planned in 2004 and built just behind Maqboolpura, has a few homes but basic amenities like roads, sewerage, street lights and especially parks and playgrounds for children are in place.
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Maqboolpura resident Gori Phelwan, a state-level wrestler and four-time district champion, said, “Despite poverty, I managed to reach the state-level wrestling championship. There were many good players like me in Maqboolpura. But now, our locality is known for drugs. Governments are responsible for this. They never gave us a sports ground. And now, they do not even want to see our children play at parks developed for rich kids.”
A Congress activist, Phelwan, who runs a clininc that treats bone fractures, said, “I always wanted to open an akhara for the youth of Maqboolpura. But no one supported me. Had there been a sports ground, would the youth have gone for drugs. The Maqboolpura youth knows that Gori Phelwan was a sportsman and does not have a respectful job. So, why would they go for sports.”
Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) leader, Goldy, said, “Maqboolpura is a predominantly Dalit locality. We are treated like second-class citizens. Our children have no park to play. But they have constructed the new park for children of the rich even before constructing homes. We just wanted them to allow our children to use this park. But they have constructed this wall last year to stop our children from visiting these parks.”
Still, there is a window in the wall through which the kids of Maqboolpura used to go to the parks in the new colony.
Goldy, who is sure of this window closing once homes come up in the new locality, said he had raised the matter with Navjot Kaur Sidhu, the Amritsar East MLA, much before she had planned to quit BJP, but to no avail.
Phelwan said, “Navjot Kaur Sidhu always said she had no funds when she was in BJP. I have not met her since she joined Congress. But I will surely ask her to give me some space to open an akhara for the youth of Maqboolpura.”
Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Tarsem Singh Bhola, who contested the Assembly election twice, said, “We have been objecting to this wall for long. But finally, they built it last year. This wall clearly distinguishes between rich and poor and shows how this country treats its poor. Maqboolpura was always here but never got basic facilities. But the new colony had all the facilities even before houses came up. Roots of such indifferent treatment lie in the caste system.” Bhola led the local protest against the wall for a long time.
Navjot Kaur said, “I cannot force the Improvement Trust to allow Maqboolpura residents to use parks in the new colony. That is Improvement Trust property. But I will surely develop a new park for Maqboolpura residents after coming to power. Navjot Singh Sidhu wanted to develop a sports academy in Amritsar on the space where Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) developed a waste dump.”
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