‘Restore village name, or we won’t vote’

April 6th, 2009 - 4:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, April 6 (IANS) Unhappy with the name of their village being changed from Chakfateha to Barahi Mohan, residents of the village in Bihar’s Sheohar district have threatened to boycott the Lok Sabha polls if the old name is not restored. To show their anger, they are already refusing to participate in an ongoing polio campaign.
“The old village name matters more to us than anything else because it links us to our ancestors. The entire village has decided to boycott the pulse polio drive and it is just the beginning. We will be forced to boycott the polls also if the original name is not restored,” villager Diwakar Jha told IANS on phone.

In the mid 1990s, district authorities changed the name of the village, about 200 km from here.

“They changed the name nearly 14 years ago but we still use the old one. We have been asking for it to be restored in the official records for years but no one has fulfilled our demands,” said another villager Maheshwar Mishra.

Civil surgeon Permanend Dutt said he faced the villagers’ ire when he went to convince them to participate in the April 5-9 polio drive.

“The civil surgeon and a team of doctors were forced to go back after the people refused to let them administer the vaccine to their infants. We are boycotting the pulse polio drive to show our anger and frustration. Our village is very, very old and people are not happy with the new name. It is an emotional issue for all of us,” said another resident, Saguni Mandal.

Two days ago local block development officer Sanjeev Kumar Sinha visited the village but failed to convince the villagers to allow their children to be vaccinated.

After they threatened to stay away from voting, Sinha assured them that he will send a report regarding their demand to the district magistrate.

Resident Rajendra Mandal said that earlier this year villagers had petitioned Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during his vikas yatra (development march), without any result.

Over half a dozen new cases of polio have been detected in Bihar in the first three months of this year despite immunisation drives, an official in the state health department said.

The state recorded the second highest incidence of the disease in India last year after neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.

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