The monsoon has brought a double whammy to the village of Chamandih in Gaya district of Bihar. There is no roof left to live, nor grain to eat.
Today it is two o’clock in the afternoon and torrential rains have started. More than fifty people of the village have frozen under a temporary tent to avoid the rain.
The Mahadalit community of Bara Panchayat in Chamandih village of Chakand, fifteen kilometers from Gaya, is facing the brunt of development and caste alliances. The Prime Minister of India gives the slogan of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, but the railway ministry of his government is trying to air his slogan. It may seem strange to hear what development has to do with caste, but the Nats, Potters, Bhuyans and Dusadh castes of Chamandih village have endless experiences with it.
Since these castes have also been the most exploited within the Dalit community, they were declared Mahadalits in the year 2007 under the leadership of Nitish Kumar. The government claimed that creating the Mahadalit category within the Dalits would help in their social, political and economic betterment.
For almost forty years these Mahadalit castes have been living in the village of Chamandih. His father and grandfather used to go to Gaya in search of work. This was the reason for settling in Chamandeeh, a short distance away from Gaya. Even today, the men here basically work as laborers. Women work in the fields of upper castes to break moong, in return for which they are given one-tenth of the day’s work as wages. They do not get any money.
On 22 May, a mountain of sorrows has broken on this Mahadalit hamlet. Notice has come from East Central Railway to vacate the land. It is written in the notice, “You have unauthorizedly taken possession of railway land at Chakand. You are advised to remove the illegal construction within 05 days of receipt of the letter, otherwise on any day after the said date, the unauthorized construction will be removed by the Railway Administration without advance notice and the goods recovered will be seized by the Railway Administration. Will be taken and the railway administration will not be responsible for any damage in order to remove unauthorized possession. Also, the expenses incurred in removing unauthorized possession will also be recovered from you. ”
Despite giving five days’ notice in the notice, on the third day of receipt of the letter, the railway officials had bulldozers at the houses. Many houses were demolished and the condition of many boundary wall was not able to survive. After the demolition of houses by the railway, a total of 350 members of about 33 families have been affected. So the men of the house are forced to spend the night at Chakand railway station and women in broken homes.
Ambuj Kumar Sinha, Senior Section Engineer, East Central Railway, Jehanabad, told that the railway terminal has been built in the land of Chamandih village where this Mahadalit Tola is located. Right now this terminal is in Gaya which is to be shifted. Ambuj’s signature is on the notice received by the railway.
After the construction was demolished, Giridhar Sapera (37) along with some people of the village went to meet Chandauti block’s zonal officer, Ashok Kumar and BDO Amit Kumar. Giridhar told, “The employee of his office took the letter citing the busyness of the officer (CO). On the other hand, the Block Development Officer (BDO) kept saying that the task of rehabilitation lies with the officer. Neither letter was received from either of them. Even after fifteen days the rehabilitation steps were not taken by the Zonal Officer and BDO. ”
Seeing the apathetic attitude of the administration, the villagers went to meet RJD MLA Surendra Yadav from Belaganj assembly constituency. The MLA summoned the zonal officer and after that, the magistrate reached Chamandih village for the first time. After coming to the village, he measured the land in ten minutes and went away. After that, almost a month passed, but neither the magistrate nor the administrative help reached the people.
Munni Devi told Newslaundry, “We have been living here for forty years. This land belongs to the railway, we did not even know. Our father and grandfather built houses here, marriage and marriage and death have happened here, where will we go now? ”
Gaya District Magistrate Abhishek Singh expressed ignorance on the matter in a conversation with Newslaundry. “We are not aware of this matter. Since this matter is coming to my notice through you, I will ask SDM to look into this matter, ”said District Magistrate Abhishek Singh.
Urmila Devi (51) does not even agree with DM’s point. She says, “We have given letters to DM Sahib with our own hands. With folded hands, say, Sir, if we provide people with a roof, otherwise we will have no choice but to commit suicide. ”
Meanwhile, monsoon rains are at their peak in South Bihar. People have covered the broken roofs with plastic in some way. Railways have also thrown junk in the toilet, people are now forced to defecate in the open. More than two months have passed since the railways have encroached and the continuation of response from the CO, BDO and DM is continuing. Surprisingly, no officer acknowledges the letters.
What is the acknowledgment most people of the hamlet do not know. The signature of the letter of the concerned officer of the administration means that the matter has come to the notice of the administration. But here, despite the knowledge of the matter to the administrative authorities, a skilled launch is being made to remain formally ignorant.
CO Ashok Kumar laid the blame of rehabilitation on the people of Mahadalit Tola. “We have sent our officials many times to inspect the rehabilitation land. There is no land in the said panchayat, so we have fixed the land of Korma Panchayat for rehabilitation, ”said the CO.
The CO disconnected the phone when asked how long it would take to rehabilitate. He failed all attempts to talk again. At the same time, BDO Amit Kumar said, “If affected families of Chamandih village come under rehabilitation, then as per rules they will get benefit from the Zonal Office.” It was clear that BDOs were putting their responsibilities on the forehead of the Zonal Officer.
Residents of Chamandih Mahadalit Tola dismiss the talk of CO completely. He is not ready to accept that there is fallow land in Chamandih village.
Ambuj Kumar Sinha, the section officer of the railway, also gave a statement about Palla. “Take possession of the railway land and then ask the railways to rehabilitate it.”
Runa Devi gestures with her hands and shows the pokhar and cemetery land. She says, “This is all government land. The people of Dabang caste are cultivating it. They do not want Mahadalits to be settled here. ”
Agreeing with Runa Devi, Girdhar Sapera shows the map. He explains, “Apart from Murdaghati east of Chakand station, Pokhar has 5 acres of 37 decimals of land. Pokhar also has three acres of land in the west. This is all government land. The people of the Yadav caste are farming in the pokhar land. But we are not ready to give even one inch of land to the landless. ”
It is not just the upper caste castes that the people of the Mahadalit community call out as the dominant castes. They also include OBC Yadavs, Kurmi castes living in the village among the Dabang castes. According to him, since the people of Mahadalit community have different living conditions, food habits are different and they do less in society, so OBC castes also discriminate against them.
However, in mid-June, the people of the village once again appealed to the officer. This time he reprimanded Girdhar and said, “If there is a hurry to rehabilitate, then find some land for rehabilitation itself.” What would not have happened, Girdhar agreed with the village officer and many more villages in his village. I gave information about fallow land. This hard work also went in vain and the magistrate paid no attention.
According to Urmila Devi, the zonal officer is upset with why Girdhar Sapera is trying to make correspondence repeated and make matters light. “Since Giridhar is the only BA pass boy among us. That tells us right and wrong. This thing is disturbed by the domineering castes of the village, how the boy from the snake catcher nut community read and wrote How he is so dumb that administrative correspondence needs acknowledgment. He tries to keep the Mahadalits of the Chamandih village organized, a matter that the domineering castes don’t like at all, ”said Urmila.
Probably the biggest reason for administrative apathy is the houses built under Indira Awas Yojana in Chamandih village. Out of a total of 33 houses, 10 houses were built under the ambitious Indira Awas Yojana of the Central Government.
Under Indira Awas Yojana, Meena Devi (50) received Rs 48,500 to build a house. Previously, his house was like the rest of the soil. “A few years ago, due to the government’s plan, his family was gradually trying to improve the standard of living. What we knew was that the shed for which the fields had sweated, that dream would be fulfilled. ”In 2017 also two houses have been built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
The big question arises that when these houses were unauthorized on government land, then how did they get the benefit of the government’s Indira Awas Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana? Why did the administration not investigate it then? Who is responsible for the rehabilitation – Railways or Bihar government?
The Questions Included
However, there may be a long debate on these questions, but the reality is that the most exploited Mahadalit class of the society is being trampled under development. After the attempt to remove the encroachment by the railways, the Mahadalits of the village have stopped getting ration and kerosene oil under the public distribution system. The household chulhas are barely burning once. Mahadalits of Chamandih village are taking the pledge of mass suicide instead of fighting. Runa Devi’s eyes fill up, saying “upper caste leaders, upper caste officers, nobody is our listener.” Runa’s daughter’s wedding is scheduled on July 8 and she eats up wondering where the wedding procession will be and how the daughter will get married.
The Mahadalits of Chamandih had high hopes from former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi. Girdhar says, “When Jitan Ram Manjhi was made the Chief Minister of Bihar, we felt that now our community will be uplifted. But he also did not help us.”
From Girdhar to Munni Devi and from Ritu Paswan to Urmila Devi, everyone in the newslaundry told suicide as the only option. Where immediate help is needed, the administration is busy preparing the foundation of deathbed. Seeing this arbitrary pace of development, we must definitely ask – whose development? For what and at what cost?