Politics at grassroot level gets bloody in Haryana
A Haryana village sarpanch Vinod Sharma (32), his wife Rekha, and three-year-old son Aman are battling for life at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi. They were shot at by miscreants on August 15 at their residence in Rohtak’s Kultana village over alleged political rivalry in the panchayat elections.india Updated: Aug 19, 2016 16:40 IST
A Haryana village sarpanch Vinod Sharma (32), his wife Rekha, and three-year-old son Aman are battling for life at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi. They were shot at by miscreants on August 15 at their residence in Rohtak’s Kultana village over alleged political rivalry in the panchayat elections.
However, Sharma is not the only one. The politics at grassroot level in Haryana has taken a bloody turn, with sarpanches and their families being attacked regularly by rivals over election-related feuds. The political experts in the state are attributing it to “prestige problem” of the people living in rural areas, where Khap panchayats have a dominant hold and cases of honour killing and shootouts are rampant.
Recently, a newly-elected sarpanch and his father were shot dead by three men at their residence in Asauda Sevan village in Bahadurgarh. The police said they were killed by the family of a runner-up in the sarpanch elections. The panchayat poll rivalry had claimed its first life in matter of hours after the results of the elections were declared in January. Newly-elected sarpanch of Kheri village in Jind, Rakesh Kumar Yadav (40), was shot dead allegedly by the son of his nearest rival, who wanted to take revenge of the defeat in the polls.
A political observer and social activist in Jhajjar, Mukesh Singh, blamed it on Haryana men’s ‘mooch problem’. “For them, their reputation comes first. When they lose elections, the only thing they can think of is revenge,” Singh said. “What has added to the problem is hooligans and criminals contesting elections, or nominating their family members. They think their ‘dabang’ attitude will make them win without doing any development,” he added.
A recent incident of poll rivalry shamed Haryana when an army officer’s father and brother were killed by a goon in Sonepat’s Karewari village for not voting for his brother in panchayat elections. Disappointed Major Sushil Chikkara wrote an emotional message: “A soldier goes to the battlefield leaving behind his family at home with confidence that police and civil administration will ensure their well-being.”
More than a dozen other incidents have been reported in Haryana in these last eight months where either sarpanches or their family members have been attacked. Last week, over 47 sarpanches in Rohtak collectively went to meet SP and DC to demand security for the husband of Baland village sarpanch, who has luckily dodged three attacks by masked miscreants. His complaint to the police, too, names a panchayat poll rival.
Raj Singh Hooda, a political commentator in Rohtak, said property and corruption could be major factors behind such attacks. “Many sarpanches have commission-business with contractors for developmental works in their villages. When they lose elections, they also lose their source of income through corruption, which they cannot tolerate. Also, people close to sarpanches often illegaly acquire panchayat land for their own personal use. When their favourable sarpanch loses, they fear being deprived of property and take such steps,” Hooda said.