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Friday, July 20, 2018

Inside camp: Solar power, ‘bank’, kids wielding lathis

Those living near Jawahar Bagh said the mornings at the settlement started with boys, aged between 10 and 15, holding traditional lathis and reciting morning chants.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | Mathura | Updated: June 5, 2016 3:17:35 am

Ask residents of Jawahar colony about that one image that is etched in their memory about the Swadheen Bharat Subhas Sena and they instantly reply: the image of men and children armed with lathis. Those staying in Jawahar Bagh Thursday used the same lathis to beat up SP (City) Mukul Dwivedi and SHO Santosh Yadav.

Those living near Jawahar Bagh said the mornings at the settlement started with boys, aged between 10 and 15, holding traditional lathis and reciting morning chants. “There were chants about Netaji. This went on for 20 minutes and then they would disperse. Hundreds of children would gather with their lathis. They were also trained to use them,” says Hiten Singh Chaudary, a government teacher who stays in the area.

Jawahar Bagh was equipped to draw electricity from solar panels, he said. “When the government cut off electricity supply to their homes three months back, they got their own solar panels,” added Chaudary.

The teacher said every family living at Jawahar Bagh had been allotted a plot inside the nursery. “Each family was allotted land inside. There they built their kutcha houses. They had public toilets for each group of 10 or 15 houses,” Chaudary said.

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Chaudary claimed the squatters had their own banking system. “At least 50 women used to cook for all of them three times a day. There were huge kitchens,” he added.

Children gathered for a second time in the evenings, said Chaudary. “It was usually at this time that their leader Ram Vriksh Yadav addressed them. He was always accompanied by a man who carried two swords,” he said.

Another resident of the area, who works at the SDM office, said supplies of food materials, oil and gas were brought in the night. “Truckloads of foodgrains, vegetables and oil were brought in the night. It was all done secretly,” he said.

A senior official of horticulture department said the squatters had taken over a part of the nursery too and cultivated guava, lemons, mangoes, gooseberry among other fruits.

“Usually one would make an annual profit of nearly Rs 15 lakh through this,” said B Dikshit, senior inspector of the horticulture department.

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