Spread across Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, Chitrakoot, the ‘Abode of Gods’, now wants an identity of its own – with the status of a free zone.
Chitrakoot region of UP was carved out into a separate district from Banda district but two-third area lies in Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district.
Now people acoss the two states from the region want to jointly lobby for a distinct and separate identity at a Chitrakoot Jan Sansad (peoples’ parliament) on January 23. Cutting across party lines, MPs, MLAs, block pramukhs, zila panchyat members, intellectuals and academicians from both UP and MP region of Chitrakoot would attend the meeting to demand a separate ‘free zone’ status for the region.
Chitrakoot is the area where Hindu deities Ram and Sita spent eleven years of their fourteen-year exile from their Kingdom of Ayodhya, according to Hindu mythology. It also has a place, Bharat Milap, where brothers Lord Ram and Bharat reunited. Situated 285 km south of Lucknow, it has become a famous pilgrimage centre.
A closer look at the Kamadgiri Parikrama (circumambulation) looks amusing in a way. To do the parikrama of this five kilometer path around several temples (including the Bharat Milap temple), a pilgrim crosses the UP-MP borders twice. “A pilgrim has to pay toll tax multiple times traversing this little spot moving in and out of the two states, said Gaya Prasad ‘Gopalji Bhai’, the founder of Samajseva Sansthan, Chitrakoot—one of the several organizers aof the Chitrakoot peoples’ parliament.
“Large number of tourists and pilgrims across the country visit here, but they face confusion and problem due to absence of development and incoherent administration due to administration by two districts and two state governments,” said Gaya Prasad.
A pilgrim-guide, Pt Mitra Nath Tewari explains it better through Chitrakoot's parikrama (circumambulation) of Kamadgiri. He said: “How the spot is incoherently administered by two different governments is visible from the fact that the two governments dug out the original lime-paste pathway and replaced it. If UP used cement textured stone, MP used red stone. Only Lord Ram knows when such kind of confusion would end.”
Gaya Prasad said Chitirakoot is associated with Lord Ram-Sita-Laxman-Bharat, Tulsidas (who lived in Rajput), Valmiki (who lived in Lalpur) and Valmiki ashram is here, holy Mandakini river and forest areas are there, but area is least developed. “We want integrated development by whatever mechanism. The region once in late 1970s had demanded for it to be made a ‘free zone’ for administrative purposes. And we would raise it again,” said Gaya Prasad.
A BJP leader from Banda (UP’s Chitrakoot district once was part of Banda district) said: “It is due to this confusion of Chitrakoot that the dacoits problem here could not controlled well. If UP police does an operation against dacoits in Chitrakoot of UP, then dacoits flee to MP’s region. If MP police does something, the dacoits hide in UP’s Chitrakoot.
The two police forces never coordinate. If UP Chitrakoot people run a drive to clean river Mandakini, the Municipality in MP dump garbage into it’s part of the river.”