Uttar Pradesh children afraid of police, says Rahul; villager says no (Lead)

December 22nd, 2008 - 7:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiAmethi (Uttar Pradesh), Dec 22 (IANS) People of Uttar Pradesh and children in particular are afraid of the police, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi said in his constituency Monday, citing the example of a villager who, however, denied the claim.Rahul Gandhi was in Amethi along with his mother and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for the inauguration of a self-help group (SHG) scheme.

“During my visit earlier this year to a village in Amethi, I went to a poor Dalit villager’s home and was shocked to hear what his children told me,” Rahul Gandhi said while addressing a gathering of over 5,000 people, mostly women, in Gauriganj block of Amethi.

In February, Rahul visited the home of Ramlal, a daily wage labourer, and Sunita in Jawahar Ka Purwa village and had shared a meal with the family.

Recalling that visit, Rahul Gandhi said Sunita’s two children sat in his lap and narrated details of police atrocities.

“Her four-year-old daughter Aman told me that policemen visit their house quite often and beat her father Ramlal publicly without any reason,” he said.

However, when contacted, Ramlal clarified: “Nothing like that has happened. There was a family dispute and policemen once took me to the police station. I came home within an hour. That was all.”

Addressing the crowd, Rahul Gandhi further said: “I also noticed that most of the children in the village were not wearing warm clothes (it was winter then) and the reason was also surprising.”

Ramlal said that it is because elders have to work to earn a living that they wear warm clothes and they are not able to afford sweaters for their children, according to Rahul Gandhi.

“People said we hardly manage to earn bread for our families and it is more important for us to wear warm clothes. It hardly matters for poor villagers if their children fall ill - if the elders fall ill they will not be able to fetch food for the children,” Rahul Gandhi told the gathering.

“Lakhs of children in India do not have warm clothing and my dream of a developed India is that we should not have a family like that of Sunita anywhere in India,” Rahul said.

Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi also launched the Priyadarshini Yojana, an SHG project in association with NABARD and a couple of nationalised banks.

“Currently the project has been launched in four districts of Uttar Pradesh and two districts of Bihar. We will soon be extending it across India,” Sonia Gandhi said while addressing the gathering.

Sonia Gandhi said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, besides this scheme, had also launched a number of welfare schemes for women and children.

“To name a few, we have proposed bills in parliament like the one for ensuring share for women in parental property and an Act against domestic violence. We also introduced a special ministry for women and child welfare. I would also like to state that development needs women and not vice-versa,” she said.

“Women need a platform to narrate their problems and our SHG scheme provides them with a platform. We are hopeful that this scheme will also help the rural women to strengthen them,” Sonia Gandhi added.

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