Guns rule ‘badlands’ of Bhind-Morena
Election is just another passing season in the Chambal ravine or ‘beehads’ which has harboured dacoits for centuries.
In the badlands of districts Bhind-Morena, the discourse is back to basics – life and livelihood.
Dacoits no more exist or at the least the administration believes so, but the deprivation remains.
However, the fascination for guns rules all and sundry and it is a daunting task for the police to ensure that all the licensed guns are seized before each election in the region, where temper runs high and blood is frequently spilled over minor land disputes.
As many as 630 licenced weapons have already been seized by policemen in Sinhonia of Dimni assembly constituency in Morena district.
Criss-crossing the tumultuous, unwieldy, deep and high of the huge anthill like mud structures as one reaches Bhidousa, the village of Pan Singh Tomar, the protagonist of Bollywood director Tigmanshu Dhulia’s acclaimed film, the story is no different.
The annoyed glance of a dozen youths playing cards at the entrance of the village, mostly in their forties, welcomes visitors.
‘We play cards and while away our time,’ is the curt response of a brash youngster when asked what they do to eke out a livelihood.
Cutting across community lines, the villagers swear by guns and justify their fascination for it citing needs like ‘self defence’ and ‘livelihood’.
‘These guns get our youths jobs as security guards in cities. What to do? There is no other occupation. They try to get into Armed forces. Those who fail to make it join as security guards. Those without gun licenses and poor end up being agriculture labour here or daily wagers in cities,’ says Sandip Mahour, a BCA pass-out and Panchayat Gram Rojgar Sahayak from Bhidousa.
Mewaram Sharma, a Brahmin priest proudly claims that his grandfather had got a licenced gun for self-defence, when dacoits ruled the roost. The weapon has now been passed on to the fourth generation, his son.
The education scenario, especially for women in the villages here is dismal.
Bhidousa falls under Dimni assembly segment of Morena district where sitting BJP MLA Shivmangal Singh appears pitted in a direct contest against a younger Congress candidate Ravindra Singh Tomar, who had lost the last assembly election to him by 256 votes, triggering allegations of malafide.
Tomar, who originally hails from Uttar Pradesh, was a member of Samajwadi Party but later joined Bahujan Samaj Party and contested on its ticket here in last assembly polls.
After the shocking defeat, Tomar had a dalliance with BJP for a short span but soon got disenchanted and is now a Congress candidate.
The Congress candidate appears riding on a sympathy wave and is considered by villagers as more approachable but the ‘Chanakya’ of Chambal politics, BJP state chief Narendra Singh Tomar, is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the victory of his party candidate Shiv Mangal.
Working on the lines of caste politics, BSP has fielded a Brahmin candidate Balbir Dandoutia, while both Congress and BJP have fielded Tomar (Kshatriya) candidates in this region called Tomarghar (the area of Tomars).
Some villagers in Bhidousa expressed their disinclination to attend public meeting of the BJP state chief in nearby Sinhonia village.
‘Who will take care of the cattle, if we go on attending meetings,’ says Vishnu Singh, the maternal grandson of Pan Singh Tomar.
‘Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan came for the first time in Dimni this election not to speak of visiting our village,’ he adds when asked whether the CM ever visited the region.