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Free of dacoits, Madhogarh hopes to vote ‘fearlessly’

Friday 6 April 2007, by PANDE*Alka S.

MADHOGARH, APRIL 5: Following the death of dacoit Jagjeevan Parihar in an encounter, Madhogarh at Jalaun district in the Bundelkhand region is looking forward to free and fair elections.

Apart from Parihar, the place has seen brigands like Lala Ram, Vikram Mallah, Salim Gurjar, Nirbhay Gurjar and dasyu sundaris (female dacoits) like Phoolan Devi, Seema Parihar, Meera Thakur, Kusuma Nain and Sunita Yadav who were always a factor in the election outcome. “I have seen the time when voting against their diktat resulted in breaking of hands,” recalls 76-year-old Prabhu Dayal of Marmara village in Madhogarh.

Another resident of Madhogarh, Shiv Pujan Singh Gurjar, reminisces how dacoits’ diktat dominated the whole elections till five years back. “Majority of the pradhans and sarpanchs in the villages used to be their (dacoits’) men, who functioned as informers.

Gurjar says a few gangmen would enter the villages at night to confront prominent families, who had some hold in the village, and convey the orders of their leaders. “Then it became the responsibility of those family members to ensure that votes were cast only in favour of that particular party, which was backed by the brigand,” he says.

Forty per cent of the population in Madhogarh are Dalits and they have till date never voted freely and this has reduced the area to one of the most backward constituencies in the state.

Even after six decades of independence, more than 50 per cent of about 220 villages in 54 panchayats of Madhogarh do not have electricity and pukka roads. There is just one primary school and the only degree college belongs to the sitting MLA Brijendra Pratap Singh. “In the last 60 years no one even tried to construct a single road, but now four bridges are under construction,” says Singh, who is contesting this election on a Jan Morcha ticket. Despite his claims, Singh is seeing BSP candidate Hari Mohan Upadhyay as his potential rival. “He is a Brahmin candidate, so he will get the votes of his own community as well as those of the BSP’s Dalit electorate.

See online : The Indian Express

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