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Leaders blind to real ailments

punjab Updated: Feb 18, 2013 22:17 IST
Surinder Maan

The problems of the constituency are lost completely on the leaders in the local assembly byelection campaign.

Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal are busy justifying why Joginder Pal Jain switched to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and why the ruling alliance gave him ticket; while state Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh, and Jagmeet Singh Brar, a member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), have made the law and order situation in the state an issue. Manpreet Singh Badal and comedian Bhagwant Mann of the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) have condemned both Jain and the Congress.

No one, meanwhile, has raised the gravest issue in the district—the outbreak of hepatitis-C. Voters are surprised that their leaders have failed to take note of a virus that has infected more than 2,100 poor people in Moga, 1,600 in Baghapurana, 600 in Langeana, 900 in Badhni Kalan, and many more in the surrounding areas. “A year ago, the ruling SAD had made an election promise of solving Moga’s 10-year-old hepatitis-C problem,” said social worker Gurtej Singh Brar of Langeana. “Where’s the promised solution?”

Nirmal Singh, 43; Rajesh Kumar, 27; Gurmukh Singh, 34; and Sheela Rani, 26, all of Moga, found they had hepatitis-C when they visited a private camp to donate blood. That was three years ago.

“In the past 10 years, the health department has never organised any camp for the detection of hepatitis-C,” said Gurtej Singh. “In the past five years, it has conducted three surveys, however, but without coming out with a solution. The survey was an eyewash and done in haste for the sake of filing a report," said Charanjit Sharma, a teacher in one of the worst-affected areas that no team ever visited.

Five patients from two poor families visit a dera every Sunday to seek the blessings of its Baba, in the hope that it will cure the disease. “We don’t have any money to spend on treatment,” said Malkit Kaur of Bukkan Wala village. “My husband is farm labourer, who earns only Rs 1,500 a month to feed a family of six. How can my two sons and I afford to buy medicine?”