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Thursday, July 19, 2018

The forgotten villages of Bhatta & Parsaul

Nine months separated the violent farmer agitation in Bhatta and Parsaul in May 2011 and the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in February 2012.

Written by Dipankar Ghose | Bhatta | Published: July 2, 2012 12:00:02 am

Nine months separated the violent farmer agitation in Bhatta and Parsaul in May 2011 and the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in February 2012. The period saw the villagers allege police brutality,senior government officials being shot at by protesting villagers and Rahul Gandhi enter the village on a motorcycle at 4 in the morning. A number of media vans were a permanent sight near the villages,putting Bhatta and Parsaul in the spotlight even as it turned a political battlefield.

Once the violence abated and the Assembly elections drew nearer,each political party made the people of Bhatta and Parsaul their priority.

Radhe Shyam Singh,a resident of Bhatta village,said,“The candidates made sure that we did not lack anything — perhaps,to make up for what happened in our villages. The Congress candidate Dhirendra Singh provided water tankers for us. We used to get electricity supply for close to 14 hours a day and if we ever got less than that,all we had to do was call the workers of the BSP candidate,and the power supply would be restored. They used to come and tell us that our men,who are in jail,were fine and would be let out soon.”

However,a year later,Bhatta and Parsaul seemed to have slipped off everyone’s mind— and priority list.

Singh said,“No water tankers come anymore. We can’t ask Dhirendra Singh to send them as he lost the elections. Ever since the results were declared,he hasn’t come to the village once.”

Water,however,isn’t the biggest problem for the residents of the two villages — electricity is. “We can survive without water tankers as there are canals and handpumps in the area. But the power situation has never been this bad. We get power supply for four hours a day,from 12 to 4 in the afternoon. After that,we are left to brave the heat in the shade of trees. From the time I can remember,we have had no contact with the electricity board. We used to convey our problem to the local political leaders of the ruling party and they fixed it for us. Last year,they were eager to please. This year they don’t even give us a hearing. Two elders of the village have passed away because of the heat,” said Mahesh Chaudhary,pradhan of the village.

For some like Kela Devi,the fact that Bhatta and Parsaul carry no political weight anymore have even greater ramifications.

Nine men of the village — including her husband Ghan Singh and brother-in-law Gaje Singh — are presently lodged in Dasna Jail.

Devi said,“In the months before the elections,most of the men came back,though some remained in jail. The leaders of the Congress and the BSP kept assuring people like me that our men would be set free soon. But now,when we try to speak to anyone,they turn a deaf ear. My husband and brother-in-law are innocent. The problem that the politicians created still exist. But there is nobody who wants to fight for us anymore.”

Karan Singh,the brother of Dhirendra Singh,said,“It is not that the people are not our priority anymore. Bhaiya has been out of town for the last month. When he returns,he will look into their problems.”

When contacted,representatives of the BSP at the Jhewar district said,“Last year the power situation was better. This year,the entire state is facing problems. However,now that the grievance has been brought to our notice,we will look at ideas to resolve the issue.”

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