Puppets in the hands of politicians
Kathputli Colony residents will vote to stay where they have been living for 50 years, reports Moushumi Das Gupta.delhi Updated: May 02, 2009 00:04 IST
Anil Nagori is a puppeteer by profession. He lives with his family in Delhi’s Kathputli Colony, close to Shadipur flyover.
Next month, a voluntary organisation would fly him to England for a performance. From there, he would go to Italy for another show. Nagori is eagerly waiting for his first foreign trip — and to experience the luxury of flying.
But till the time he leaves, he has other worries in mind, like fetching water from miles away for the family.
Kathputli Colony, which is home to about 20,000 puppeteers and folk artists — many of whom have performed abroad — does not have water supply. Every morning, the residents walk for about half-a-mile to get their daily supply of water.
“Will anybody believe that in this day and age, bang in the heart of the Capital, we have to walk so far to get water? The nearest public lavatory is also 20 minutes away,” said Manju Bhatt, a resident.
And every election season, it’s the same story. “Politicians visit and promise that all these would be taken care off if voted to power. After the election, everything is back to square one,” said Shanti Bhatt (50), another resident.
Nagori’s parents, both puppeteers, had come and settled in this colony from Nagore in Rajasthan in the 1960s. “In all these years, while the rest of the city has progressed, our lot has remained the same. The only difference is that while the population has increased phenomenally, basic services have deteriorated. So many leaders have come and gone, but nothing has changed for us,” said Nagori.
Residents said they were so disillusioned by the political parties that they even considered boycotting the polls. “We know our very existence here would become a problem if we do not vote. Just because we vote we are allowed to stay here, otherwise we would be thrown out from this place,” said Jagdish Bhatt.
In the run up to this election, they have even been promised flats by the government. The Union Urban Development Ministry and the Delhi Development Authority in February gave green signal to a rehabilitation scheme for the 23 slum clusters in and around Kathputli Colony.
They are clinging on to the promise. “My parents and grandparents have lived their whole life here, with minimal services, in a one-room hut. Now, we have been promised that this would change and we would be allocated flats here with all necessary facilities. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Let’s see if this time politicians keep their word,” said Prakash Bhatt, another puppeteer.