Remembering Rampur Tiraha and martyrs of Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun : It is just about two decades today, when on the directions of then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Uttar Pradesh Police wreaked brutality of the highest order on the agitationists for a separate Uttarakhand state at Muzaffarnagar, when they were moving to Delhi for a dharna. The incident is now recalled as the Rampur Tiraha episode after the exact location of the firing and other police atrocities.

Seven persons were killed, 17 others injured and women agitationists had to seek refuge in houses in village to save their dignity and honour. Needless to say there were cases of rape. Needless to say that the families of those very persons who had stood their ground and faced the brutalities with their heads held high, today hang their heads in shame, at the very mention of Uttarakhand.

It is not because of a dream gone awry, but the fact that the spirit of sacrifice, devotion and valour shown for the cause of statehood, has been let down by none others than the sons-of-the-soil; the Tewaris, Koshiaris, Pokhriyals, Khanduris and Bahugunas to name a few. To what they had hoped would be a golden future for their children and the people of the state, has become an epitome of corruption, that would put even the erstwhile Bihar to shame.

In fact the very memorials that were made at Rampur, Sisona, Mendpur and Bagowali in the from of ‘milan centres’ at the cost of Rs 10 lakhs about an year back, and honouring those who has given refuge to the women of Uttarakhand at these villages to save their honour from the U P Police and PAC, are today examples of how the money was “pocketed”. Low quality of construction speaks out.

This is not the only disrespect to the agitationists of Uttarakhand. If the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal and its leaders, that spearhead the agitation for a separate hill state is to be blamed fair and square for playing with the sentiments and emotions of the people of Uttarakhand and leaving them in the lurch, the Congress and BJP governments eversince the state came into existence in November 2000, are equally responsible for the rampant corruption, zero governance, negative administration all round neglect of its people that one sees today.

What else can be the reason that villages where people lived in peace and harmony, though in dire need of the required infrastructure and medical and other facilities, when the region was a corner of the sprawling uttar Pradesh state, are today leaving their hearth and homes and seeking greener pastures elsewhere. Villages are wearing desolated looks as the entire strength has migrated, because the governments have simply failed to deliver to the masses and there is no hope of deliverance in the future also, so rampant is the corruption.

Vijay Bahuguna, the chief minister has gone on record to say that the sacrifices of the agitationists can never be forgotten and to honour them, the government will work unitedly to make Uttarakhand a model state. “To make the dreams and vision of the agitationists a reality at the grass root level, so that their sacrifice does not go in vain, we will work for the all round development of the state”, he added.

Will this government with no conscience deliver, is the question that the people of this small hill state are asking. There were at least four ministers of cabinet rank, plus a host of other senior party leaders and functionaries at a function at the residence of a senior minister, when bullets were fired and two persons were injured. Not one came out to name who had fired though the newspapers and TV channels said it openly. It took the Speaker of the vidhan sabha four days to muster courage to make the name public.

While the lay man has to run from pillar to post to get some thing as small as a ration card form, just a form, not the ration card, mind you, the political bosses and their ‘chamchas’, not to mention the babudom in its air-conditioned chamber and their relatives have a field day, as nothing seems to be out of their reach. Doors open, and even the high and mighty bend backwards to meet their demands, while the ‘aam aadmi’ keeps running into a wall in any government office for even ordinary works that should have been done normally.

The vernacular dailies are full of stories of the prevailing rampant corruption and nepotism, but no one batters an eye lid, for no one is bothered that public money is being squandered. Probes are ordered but are hardly ever taken to their logical conclusion and in most condition dropped mid way so that no report has tp be made. One could write a book on the goings-on in this small mountain state, where frustration and anger is writ on the faces of the youth, but they seem to be helpless, as helpless as the agitationists and their children on what Uttarakhand has become and delivered to its people.

The chief minister has adopted an ostrich syndrome at the happenings all around him. If only he would stop moving around in a chopper and take to the streets of any town in the state as a layman, he would hear not only the rumblings of the people, but the countless stories of the prevalent rampant corruption and the name of bigwigs allegedly involved in the shady deals behind almost each and every legitimate deal. And now with reports of his being replaced doing the rounds he is more busy saving his chair than the reputation of his government.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Pradeep R

    The pain of Rampur Tiraha has not diluted even after two decades. It was the days of hardly any news channel and I saw the brutalities recorded on video news service such as “Eyewitness” in those days. I personally feel, Rampur Tiraha was also symbolic of two very different cultures, when women of all ages, steeped in culture of respect to women, were ravaged by state-sponsored scoundrels, who used rape as weapon to shatter their pride in their culture, values, and traditions. I still remember the screams of women with clothes torn by the police on video news. It is now a good riddance from a retrograde state of U.P. The least now Uttrakhand government can do is institute a State commission into the barbarism of state police. Why not? When mass rapists and butchers of 1971 war can be hanged in Bangladesh today, I am sure the scoundrels of 2 October 1993 of Rampur Tiraha can at least brought to book.

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