Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Saturday finally made his way to Kurthala village of the district, which hit media limelight after Lt Kiran Shekhawat – who hailed from the village -- was killed in the Dornier crash off Goa’s coast on March 24.
The visit to the victim’s family came nearly a fortnight after the incident and to make up for the delay, Khattar announced a series of sops including a women’s college in the name of the deceased officer. The mood was tense in the village, which is around 40kms from Gurgaon, since Khattar’s visit was cancelled twice – something the locals took as a gross insult as Shekhawat belonged to the Indian Navy.
“We had been waiting to welcome the CM after making all the arrangements on Friday when suddenly I receive a call from CM office telling me that the visit has been cancelled. This led to a feeling of resentment among all of us. This happened earlier also, when we tried to contact the CM in March. The CM’s office tried to circumvent the issue and we later came to know that the CM was present at a party with a BJP MLA,” said Shrichand Chhoker, Kiran’s father-in-law.
Khattar spent around 15 minutes with the family and a few villagers and assured all possible help. Ram Bilas Sharma, Haryana transport minister, also accompanied him.CM, however, refused to talk to the media.
“Besides the college the CM announced re-construction of a 4-km road and name it after Kiran. Apart from this, the CM assured the construction of another 2-km stretch of road that would shorten the village’s distance from Palwal,” said Chhoker, who maintained that these assurances would not cover up the insult done by this government by cancelling earlier visits by the CM.
The locals still have resentment against the CM and the government over lack of schools, water, power facilities in the village.
“We belong to a family of defence personnel, my two sons currently serve in the defence department, where my husband also used to serve. We do not have schools for higher secondary education in the village. Girls still drop their education after 10th or move out to other areas for further studies,” said Kiran’s mother-in-law.
“Kiran was an idol for the girls of the village. We will have college here at any cost and a university also in Mewat to upgrade education,” she said adding that she will mobilise a movement in this regard. However, the villagers were expecting more sops and wanted the CM to adopt the village and announce Rs 5 cr help for the family as well as some scholarships in Kiran’s name.
Meanwhile, local MLA Zakir Hussain said that the BJP government took the navy officer’s death on duty very lightly.
“Union minister Rao Inderjit Singh, whose constituency she belonged to, was not even present on Kiran’s funeral,” said Hussain.