The residents of a tiny village in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur district have found a unique way of protesting against the lack of basic facilities – by renaming their village ‘PoK’.
Simmranpur residents have decided to rename the village as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir because it lacks educational and health facilities as well as electricity, proper roads, school and dispensary.
Simmranpur’s population of 800 collectively arrived at the decision to rename their village, as they felt the situation was as horrible as the actual ‘Pakistan Occupied Kashmir’. Placards and banners have been put up in shops around the village stating that the new name will stay until their demands for basic amenities are met.
Simmranpur is 70 years old, but we still don’t have electricity, water, toilets. Poles were erected 2-3 years ago, but there are no power lines. An 11,000-volt line runs through here, but to another village. The village chief doesn’t acknowledge the problems. He claims we have not voted for him.
Vijay Mishra, Resident
Villagers complain Simmranpur, which falls under Daulatpur gram panchayat of Ghatampur, lacks educational and health facilities as well as electricity, proper roads, school and dispensary. There is only one hand pump in the village that is now used by villagers to tie their cattle and children, who play with its lever after it stopped working eight years ago.
Village shopkeepers even put up placards at their establishments last Thursday, saying renaming the village was the only option left for them to ensure development. “We will keep referring to the village as PoK till the time electricity, water and proper roads are made available to us,” read the hand-written placards.
“We have been reading in newspapers about PoK and its people living in servitude and neglect. Our condition is no different,” Sonu Yadav, one of the lead campaigners, says.
“The people approached BJP MLA Abhijeet Singh Sanga but no action was taken. Earlier too, the villagers raised the issue with SP MLA Mundra Shukla but he took no action,” he says.
He said the high tension electricity lines already pass through the village and it can easily be electrified.
After their pleas failed to make an impact, the villagers put up posters at temples, walls and outside the village and at the house of the village pradhan in Daulatpur. Simmranpur village falls under Daulatpur gram panchayat. Unlike Simmranpur, Daulatpur has all the facilities including a school and a water tank.
Residents say every other village, and some on the other side of the road, under Daulatpur gram panchayat is completely electrified and have all the facilities.
“Development ends at Daulatpur and surrounding villages. It never reaches us. The MPs, MLAs and village headmen generously release funds for these villages but not ours,” Brijesh Singh, a villager, says.
The village has no bathrooms, making things extremely difficult for women and kids. The village possesses a solitary hand pump, which stopped functioning around eight years ago and is now used to tie cattle. The residents claim that their village chief has distanced himself from their issues, blaming them for not voting for him.
The villagers have another problem
The absence of basic facilities has become a stumbling block for the young men from the village to find a bride in marriage.
“People aren’t comfortable with the idea of marrying off their daughters to someone from this village. There are dozens of men who could not marry for this very reason,” another villager Amit Kumar said.
The villagers say they are being forced by the politicians to drop their “PoK campaign” but they are united this time to get electricity and water even if it means keeping the new name forever.