Someone has uprooted the ‘Chamatkari Nalka’ (a handpump of magic water) on a link road to Saunti and Anniya villages of this district but small pots full of superstition now come up straight from the source.
Headstrong devotees have started throwing miniature buckets attached with ropes into the 50-foot bore to fetch water. “Whoever removed the handpump was wrong,” said Kirandeep Singh, who was drawing ‘magic water’ from a pipe. Believers are still coming,” he said, “No one can uproot our faith.” A few days ago, he was one of the volunteers handling a crowd of 25,000-odd curious visitors. Manju Jain, who had come all the way from Malerkotla, said it was the work of the government. “Sinners have done it,” she claimed, “We continue to believe it is holy water.”
The administration remains clueless on who pitched the now-removed tents around the spot and who installed the guiding signs to the place that remain. “We don’t know any specific person or organisation to be behind this mass hysteria,” sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Arvind Gupta replied to a query over telephone.
Visitor Gurmukh Singh from Ludhiana, who claims to be a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Kisan Morcha (farmer wing) in that city, said his group would ask the administration to help them reinstall the handpump. Farmer Surjit Singh from nearby village of Salani said the water had cured his mother of a liver disease. The sanitation department and Tarksheel Society of rationalists had found nothing medicinal in the sample.
In little over a month, to drink this simple, potable water, visitors have come from as far as Delhi. The queues went up to a kilometre and bottle-sellers, ice-cream vendors, and volunteers had found a good business of facilitating these thousands of devotees.
Tales out of nowhere
People have woven tales around the handpump. One of these is about a man who was losing his eyesight five years ago. “He met a ‘fakir’ (saint), who told him to install a handpump at this spot. Its water helped him regain his sight.” said volunteer Kirandeep, adding: “The handpump stopped working after some days until a saint passed by and sought its water.”
Gurmukh asked Kirandeep to narrate the story of how the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind, had visited the place and blessed it. Another woman had the story of handpump’s being blessed by “Khwaja Peer”.