Poll campaigns don’t lead to Nithari village

April 18th, 2009 - 3:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi By Sahil Makkar
Noida, April 18 (IANS) No posters, banners, rallies or speeches. None of the usual poll humdrum is visible in Nithari village near here. Its residents say they are a forgotten lot but for the macabre killings of 19 children and women that keeps the place in the news.

An urban slum on the outskirts of Delhi, Nithari is part of the Gautam Budh Nagar Lok Sabha seat, which is among the largest constituencies in Uttar Pradesh and will go to polls May 7. But most politicians are not coming here.

Ram Kishan, who lost his son in the Nithari deaths, said no candidate had visited them to seek votes. “They only rushed here after the serial killings of our children and women were exposed,” Ram Kishan told IANS.

“Every party and politician - Sonia Gandhi, L.K. Advani, Mayawati and Mulayam Singh - has cheated us with false assurances and promises. Sonia Gandhi promised us money, Mulayam promised us jobs but till date, nothing has happened,” he said.

“We have collectively decided to boycott the polls,” he added.

“Even during the assembly elections two years ago, we did not see any politicians reaching out to us. They basically confined themselves to urban areas in Noida, probably they did not want to face the anger of villagers over the Nithari killings,” said Ashok Kumar, a villager.

Nithari shot to notoriety when the remains of 19 women and children hailing from the village were found in a drain behind the Noida bungalow of businessman Moninder Singh Pandher in December 2006. They were found to have been sexually abused and murdered, with Pandher and his domestic help being the key accused.

The families of victims say politicians don’t bother about them as most of them are migrants from places like West Bengal, Bihar and other parts of Uttar Pradesh and therefore do not have voter cards.

“No one approaches us as we don’t have voter cards. So we do not matter to them,” said Pappu Lal, the father of one of the deceased.

The political fight in Gautam Budh Nagar is between Ramesh Chand Tomar of the Congress, Mahesh Sharma of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Surendra Singh Nagar of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and K.K. Sharma of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

But for the nearly 2,500 voters in Nithari village, the main contest is between the BJP and BSP.

“The village is mostly made up of Gujjars and Brahmins. Gujjars, some Brahmins and other castes are supporting the BSP’s Nagar while the rest of the Brahmins are in favour of the BJP’s Sharma, who is also the owner of Kailash hospital in Noida,” said Satish Chander Mishra, a social activist living in Nithari.

“People in the village give votes to those candidates who promise to protect their illegally encroached land. Law and order or better roads are not the issues here unlike in cities,” Mishra added.

According to the villages, so far no one has bothered to come and seek their votes except Nagar.

“Nagar along with some party activists came only at the invitation of our village head. He was here for a brief while, met some people and left,” said Ashok Kumar.

Villagers believe there is another reason why politicians do not come visiting. Said one, “Prominent as well as local leaders think this is a jinxed village.”

(Sahil Makkar can be contacted at sahil.m@ians.in)

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