Of border dwellers & broken trust - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Of border dwellers & broken trust

Of border dwellers & broken trust

Anirudh Gupta

Every time the polling season nears, leaders across the political spectrum start raising the pitch for reopening of border to allure the electorate in this border constituency that shares over 200-km-long border with Pakistan.

This catchphrase, which was hitherto considered a “magic wand” for the people of this area, has been exploited to the hilt by every candidate vying for the Lok Sabha polls from this constituency, but without any tangible outcome.

Now, with the India-Pakistan relations hitting an all-time low, this rhetoric may not get any buyers this time, though the nod for the Kartarpur corridor had raised their hopes for the border re-opening early this year.

An interaction with cross-section of people in this constituency comprising nine Assembly segments reveal that the people are not amused either with the Modi government at the Centre or the Congress regime in the state. The populace here, especially those belonging to villages situated along the Sutlej, are irked over “false promises” made to them every time polls are round the corner. For these “bravehearts”, who have borne the brunt of two Indo-Pak wars and incursion of furious Sutlej several times in the past, nothing has changed on ground. “We are yet to taste the fruit of freedom even seven decades after Independence,” said Surjit Singh of Gatti Rajoke. “Leaders come ahead of the polls, make utopian promises only to forget the same after results,” says Makhan Singh, a farmer. “What to talk of netas, even the DCs and SSPs are sparsely seen here,” he added. These hapless farmers expect little change after the polls even this time unless some “dynamic” leaders get elected to the Lok Sabha. Major Singh of Kamalewala village, who runs a barber shop from a rented accommodation, wanted to join the Army after completing his Class XII. However, due to lack of financial resources, he had to settle in this profession. “Sadde pind vich bahut sare naujwan changa padh likh gaye, par uhna nu naukri nahi mili,” he said.

Karan Singh Dhaliwal, secretary, Border Kisan Union (Punjab), says even educated youth belonging to this region have to work as daily wagers. “They don’t have financial resources. Either people opt for labour or start their own small business like mobile repair or grocery shop. Those who are financially strong opt to go abroad instead of working here,” he said. No wonder that IELTS centres have mushroomed in the area.

Harbhajan Lal, a small businessman belonging to Vasal Mohanke village in Guruharsahai, praised PM Narendra Modi for his schemes like Jan Dhan Yojana, but rued that the banks denied them loans due to poor market value of land in border areas.

Amit Kamboj from Baje Ke village says though after losing elections in three states, the “Brand Modi” has lost sheen, he still believes that he will get another chance. 

Baldev Singh, a retired government employee from Lakho ke Behram village, said Modi had promised to generate job opportunities, but in vain. Talking about the sitting MP, he said they have not seen the MP for the past several years in their area.

Caste factor has always played an important role in determining the outcome of any election in this border constituency. Rai Sikhs is the predominant community here, followed by Hindus, Kumhars, Jat Sikhs and Kambojs. Most of the time either Jat Sikh or Rai Sikh candidate, barring Balram Jakhar in 1980, have represented this constituency.

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