A few months ahead of the Punjab assembly elections, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) rank and file and government officials are doing their best to convince the displaced border area villagers to stay at relief camps organised by the government at around 12 places in the district.
They are also asking the border area villagers, who left their houses after the evacuation order, that they would be given adequate compensation if they join the camps. “I don’t like to stay at the camp as I have a number of relatives, who offered us to stay along with them till normalcy returns, but some prominent persons in my village are asking me again and again to join the camp,” said a resident of Rajoke village.
There are some unconfirmed reports that on some places, some persons associated with the ruling party are taking the affected villagers to the camps forcebly. Commenting on the special efforts being made to increase strength in camps, a villager said “Such kind of atmosphere is generally witnessed on the day of polling.”
Notably, majority of the people, who are staying in 12 camps in Tarn Taran district, belong to lower castes and weaker sections of the society. So, the persons, who are at the helm of affairs at the village level, succeeded in taking them to the camps to some extent. Members of the farmer community can hardly be seen there and they prefer to go to their relatives.
Apart from officials of other departments, the cops who are deployed in large numbers in affected villages, are also playing a role in convincing the villagers to take shelter in camps.
To woo the villagers, the administration is not only providing every kind of basic facilities to them, but also making arrangements in such a way that they feel like home.
For instance, they are being facilitated to watch television and their children are being given toys besides various items to eat, said district education officer (secondary) Parmjit Singh, who has been deployed at the camp at the government senior secondary school of Gaggobuha village, where around 20 families have taken shelter.
Despite all these efforts, the camps failed to draw much people. Except a few, majority of the camps Dhand, Kasel, Padhri, Panjwar villages are empty. The observers said the response is mere 10% of the effort.
Meanwhile, residents of Jhabhal have raised questions over the use resources of Gurdwara Bir Baba Budha Sahib for the camps organised by government. “The government has issued `1 crore to the district for relief operation, then why the ration of the gurdwara is being used,” they said, fearing corruption with this large amount of money.