Dehradun : As the state capital lights up to celebrate its 12th Statehood Day, in the courtyard of a house in Uttarakhand Colony in Muni-ki-Reti, in the holy city of Rishikesh, about 50 kms from here, sits a frail 85-year-old widow, with pieces of strings round her ears attached to the spectacles, to keep them in place in place, with a distant look in her remorseful eyes.
She is neither disillusioned, nor disheartened, but having been ignored all these 12 years, she prefers not even thinking of the days, when that very courtyard of hers would be brimming over with statehood agitationists, planning their next move, as she provided them with glass fulls of water and cupfuls of tea.
Yes, she is Soorji Devi, wife of the late Indramani Badoni, often referred to as the ‘Parvatiya Gandhi’ (Gandhi of the Hills) and whose life-size statue stands at the Clock Tower crossing in the heart of the city.
And the frail old woman, who provided the much needed moral support and food to the agitationists, in her twilight years is neither being given the agitationist pension, nor the old age pension to sustain herself.
It is another story that she does not want to go with a begging bowl to the people who were now here to be seen during the struggle and agitation for Uttarakhand, but are now sitting at the helm of affairs in the state and calling the shots, for it would not only be below her dignity, but would also lower the esteem of her husband, on whose statue laying bouquets and wreaths on Statehood Day has become a ritual.
Forget old-age or widow or agitationist pension, she has been sending application after application that the wire on the electricity pole near her house be fastened properly, as the wire snaps when ever there is a strong velocity wind and there is power failure in her house, but there is no one to pay heed.
She recalls the hours that she would spend in the kitchen, as her husband, who underwent many hunger strikes and fasts for achieving statehood for Uttarakhand, sitting on the cot in the courtyard planning the next move with his followers for statehood, making tea and food for the volunteers, some of whom had travelled miles to be a part of the agitation.
No one has given a thought of being with Soorji and ask her whether her late husband had shared any views with her on what the future of the state will be like.
She recalls that she would spend days waiting for the arrival of Indramani Badoni, who would be touring the hinterlands of the hill districts of then Uttar Pradesh, mustering support for what he called Uttaranchal, but is now called Uttarakhand.
She neither has tears for the sad plight in which the state is, nor that the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal which had spearheaded the agitation with her husband has now splintered into various factions and is no longer the party of the hearts of the hill people.
Though somewhere within, her heart cries that the people who struggled for the state, faced the lathis and bullets of the police and PAC, have been sent to oblivion by the opportunist few who are now ruling the roost.