Villagers take the vote-less road to protest | india | Hindustan Times
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Villagers take the vote-less road to protest

india Updated: Apr 19, 2009 23:59 IST
Naziya Alvi
Naziya Alvi
Hindustan Times
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From rape to murder to robbery—there is no heinous crime that the stretch that connects 40-odd villages to Modinagar town has not witnessed, thanks to this road. The same road is back in news.

In a meeting of the village heads held in Niwari on Sunday afternoon, it was unanimously decided the villagers would exercise the option of Rule 49 (O) of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, to mark their protest. “We will tell the world by way of this unique protest the harrowing time we have had for the last five years,” said Raj Kumar Verma, president of Sadak Sangharsh Samiti.

Rule 49(O) allows the voters to abstain from voting for any candidate and register a complaint with the preisiding officer giving reasons for not voting. Apprised by the pressure group Youth For Equality, many natives like Munisha Bala (65) are campaigning from door to door asking people to exercise the rule in the coming elections. “We call it the killer road. So many women of our village lost their husbands in accidents due to the bad condition of this road,” said Bala.

“Sadak nahin to vote nahin” (No road, no vote) and “49 (O) Zindabad” are the popular slogans doing rounds in their village. The road has a court case pending against its contractor at Allahabad High Court. It has also led to several protests including a hunger strike in past few years. But nothing seemed to have worked.

Niwari resident Ritesh Kumar (27) who works with a media house in Lajpat Nagar in Delhi said it takes him an hour extra to reach office just because of the five-kilometre long stretch of the road. “Driving a mobike on that stretch is so risky that to be safe one has to bring the speed down to 5 to 10 km/hr.” The stretch is in suchbad condition that private buses or vans abstain from driving on it, leaving villagers with few commuting options. “Last year a young girl of Mawi village who worked in Delhi was raped on her way back by a fellow villager from whom she took a lift,” added Kumar. Robberies are also rampant on the stretch that has no street-lights.