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Jats the way, so what if Sikri sulks

india Updated: Feb 28, 2012 15:11 IST
Hemendra Chaturvedi

The Mughal-age curse of abandonment lingers on. Fatehpur Sikri was then deserted by emperors for its scarcity of water, still yearns for amenities that could help revive the hand-woven carpets industry here.

The industry is in bad shape and looms are closing down but the issue has failed to attract attention of the politicians. Forty kilometers from Agra, the township is one of the world heritage listed monument.

With the 'dargah' of Sheikh Salim Chishti here, Sikri serves as a major tourist and pilgrim attraction.

However, with rampant joblessness, tourism too fails to provide succour to local youths.

"Water crisis, power shortage besides agricultural issues are ailing the area. But unfortunately, the poll campaigns are now more focused on caste instead of social factors," says Ramveer, a resident of Kirawali township in Fatehpur Sikri constituency.

"Most of the workers employed in the manufacturing of carpet do not have standard looms and have to work on daily wages at units which fetches them wages as low as Rs 100 to Rs 125 a day and that too is irregular. Units are closing down despite much export potential," says Saurabh Mittal, a unit owner.

"No platform to profile the prepared item is available and benefit of government schemes launched for handicraft items fail to reach the actual artisans and remains confined to files of the district industries centre," alleges Mittal.

Talking about neglect of tourism sector here, the president of Hotel and Restaurant Association, Rakesh Chauhan, says the monument, despite being in list of world heritage sites, lacks proper infrastructure.

"We have failed to tap the potential of promoting tourism in Fatehpur Sikri which could provide jobs to locals," reveals Chauhan.

Sources say these issues are not being discussed even during the public meetings in this Jat-dominated area. Interestingly, Fatehpur Sikri is one of the major seats on which Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal took long time in deciding the candidate. Finally, the name of Chaudhary Babulal from RLD was declared and this irked Rajkumar Chahar who was earlier declared as Congress candidate. Rajkumar Chahar has parted ways and is now contesting as an independent candidate.

Both Chahar and Babulal are from Jat community and their conflict has made the contest in this constituency an interesting one.

Fatehpur Sikri seat was earlier won by BSP candidate Suraj Pal Singh in 2007 assembly elections. The election campaign continues on caste basis while trade and tourism have taken a backseat. The local administration had earlier declared Barara, a village in Fatehpur Sikri, as tourist village in Agra district but no positive change is visible here.