At Garhi Chaukhandi village, which has a population of around 40,000 and is in Sector 71 of Noida, a family’s social status is defined by how it gets its water supply.
The privileged few have their submersible water connections, while the rest brave scorching heat and geographical distance to rely totally on the public hand pumps — a distinction that splits the village vertically along with caste.
On Thursday, however, the locals claimed they had voted as one to avenge the “stigma” their village got after 11 of its “boys” were arrested for having allegedly raped an MBA student in January this year. “Our boys were innocent, they might have beaten to pulp the boy friend of that girl, but did not rape her. She was stark naked. I will kill my girl if even her head were bare,” 62-year-old Girija Yadav said.
She added, “I have voted against the BSP since it’s all Mayawati's conspiracy.” She also fumed over the fact that the “engineer boys”, who were actually only graduation students or STD 12th dropouts, had to give their “hair strands” and semen samples to the police for forensic evidence.
Former Pradhan Bharat Yadav (45) kept vigil at the local polling booths to “ensure the defeat of those who implicated the boys”.“The BSP got a thrashing in the first hour of the voting itself, we will vote for the Samajwadi Party since Mulayam Singh Yadav promised to re-investigate the rape,” Yadav said.
“Even the girl said only two had raped her,” he said to debunk the police charge sheet in the case. When asked again, he did a quick turn, “No, none raped her actually.” It is only if one asked the same villagers about the state of basic amenities when they reeled off their woes.
The village has no water supply network; its narrow roads are kutcha, strung together by potholes and muck pools; girls go to a neighbouring village to complete secondary education. “I don’t know what tap water is,” said Suraj Yadav, one of the rare post-graduates the village has. He added, “The groundwater level has depleted too.” Girija rued, “No MP/MLA did anything to get us water and roads. We just have promises.”