Simmranpur residents in UP have decided to rename their village as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir .Why?

Simmranpur residents in UP have decided to rename their village as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir .Why?

Lucknow,June13:Residents of a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur district have found a unique way to protest the lack of the most basic of facilities. They have renamed Simmranpur as PoK or Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, saying their situation is no better. They are protesting the

Villagers complain Simmranpur, which falls under Daulatpur gram panchayat of Ghatampur, lacks educational and health facilities as well as electricity, proper roads, school and dispensary. There is only one hand pump in the village that is now used by villagers to tie their cattle and children, who play with its lever, after it stopped working eight years ago.

Village shopkeepers even put up placards at their establishments last Thursday, saying renaming the village was the only option left for them to ensure development. “We will keep referring to the village as PoK till the time electricity, water and proper roads are made available to us,” read the hand-written placards.

The decision to change the name was taken after much deliberation by the entire village, which has a population of 800 people.

Simmranpur has a population of 800 people. (HT Photo)

“We have been reading in newspapers about PoK and its people living in servitude and neglect. Our condition is no different,” Sonu Yadav, one of the lead campaigners, says.

“The people approached BJP MLA Abhijeet Singh Sanga but no action was taken. Earlier too, the villagers raised the issue with SP MLA Munidra Shukla but he took no action,” he says.

He said the high tension electricity lines already pass through the village and it can easily be electrified.

“The electricity poles in the village, which do not have wires, were erected by a contractor from his own resources when he was contesting the panchayat election in 2008. Electricity has not been made available in our village in the last 70 years. Even worse, we are going to have one of the biggest power plants near the village,” Vinay Mishra, who spent 14 years in Mumbai but settled down in Simmranpur, says.

After their pleas failed to make an impact, the villagers put up posters at temples, walls and outside the village and at the house of the village pradhan in Daulatpur. Simmranpur village falls under Daulatpur gram panchayat. Unlike Simmranpur, Daulatpur has all the facilities including a school and a water tank.

Residents say every other village, and some on the other side of the road, under Daulatpur gram panchayat are completely electrified and have all the facilities.

“Development ends at Daulatpur and surrounding villages. It never reaches us. The MPs, MLAs and village headmen generously release funds for these villages but not ours,” Brijesh Singh, a villager, says.

After their pleas failed to make an impact, the villagers put up posters at temples and other structures. (HT Photo)

The desperation stems from the fact that monsoon is about to set in and only 30 people have ration cards in the village. “The ‘quotadaar’ (the person who runs the fair price shop) doesn’t give kerosene even to ration card holders. We don’t have electricity and we will not get kerosene too,” says Mishra.

The villagers have another problem.

The absence of basic facilities has become a stumbling block for the young men from the village to find a bride in marriage.

“People aren’t comfortable with the idea of marrying off their daughters to someone from this village. There are dozens of men who could not marry for this very reason,” another villager Amit Kumar said.

The villagers say they are being forced by the politicians to drop their “PoK campaign” but they are united this time to get electricity and water even if it means keeping the new name forever.