iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Neelam Pandey, Hindustan Times
Mathura, April 19, 2014
The government did not keep its promises for one of their sons who sacrificed his head defending the country on the border with Pakistan. So residents of Sher Nagar have decided to make heads roll – by voting out both Congress and Samajwadi Party. Sher Nagar, a village near Mathura, has produced many a soldier. But few knew it existed until one of them, lance naik Hemraj, was beheaded by Pakistani army intruders in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir in January last year.

The village virtually became a pilgrimage for politicians after the incident. Among them was Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, whose government promised packages for members of his family.

But things have not improved for those who depended on Hemraj. His family, forgotten, continues to live in abject poverty. This has made almost all villagers decide not to send their children to the army anymore.

“They had promised jobs for Hemraj’s brother and a gas agency or petrol pump for the family but they haven’t even installed a statue of Hemraj inside the village. Insensitive leaders of our country later said that we send our children to the army so that we can get compensation later. If that’s the case they should send their children to the army and we are ready to compensate them financially,” said 62-year-old Hari Kishan, Hemraj’s uncle.

Meena Devi, Hemraj’s mother, said: “I was not even able to see his body and the pain will remain. My husband died a few years ago and now my son is also not there. I am dependent on my others sons who can barely eke out a living.”

Sher Nagar’s backwardness belies its proximity to New Delhi; the capital is less than 100 km away. Villagers have to travel 16km for basic healthcare and education and only three of some 1800 households have television sets. But people here are aware of a wave in favour of Narendra Modi who “has done wonders” for Gujarat.

“The current government is impotent as Pakistani army is killing our soldiers brutally and they are not even able to get back their heads. We hope if Modi comes to power, neighbouring countries will fear us,” said Raj Kishan, a villager.

For Meena Devi, though, Modi promises a government that would give soldiers their due. “We have thus decided to vote for BJP,” she said.

BJP has fielded Hema Malini from Mathura. Her challengers are Yogesh Kumar Dwivedi of BSP, Chandan Singh of SP and Jayant Chaudhary of RLD.