iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

HT Correspondent
Jodhpur, February 24, 2014
Over a hundred families have finally got their rights as Indian citizens, 25 years after they arrived in Jodhpur from Bundi district in search of greener pastures. Residents of Bhat Basti -- a no-man's land around 13 km from the district headquarters town - are workers in sandstone mines but were living without even the

basic amenities since they were not given franchise rights.

110 persons were handed over their electoral photo identity cards (EPIC) on Saturday, making them eligible for voting in the forthcoming general elections.

Their case was taken up by the Mines Labour Protection Campaign (MLPC) - an NGO advocating basic amenities for these workers.

The Bhats -- a nomadic tribe migrated to Jodhpur district from Budhpura in Bundi district about 25 years ago. They were mine workers in Bundi and moved here

for better wages but were facing identity crisis as they were not provided ration card or other document proving their citizenship.

"In an age of satellite TV and smartphones, these people have been living here without the basic amenities like water, sanitation and electricity to name a few,"

Rana Sengupta, managing trustee MLPC said.

He said that many of these people use mobile phone but are "dependent on the mine owners or contractor for a mobile connection".

"We saw this as a violation of their rights as citizens and took the matter before the district administration," he said.

Now, after having got their EPIC, the people are hoping that the administration would soon provide them water and electricity connection, health benefit and

ration cards.

"The district collector has assured all help to these deprived people," Sengupta said.