Friday, May 16, 2008

SKMS in action

8th April 2008

The past couple of days had been a bit quiet after the hustle-bustle of Vikas Bhavan, especially given that Monday was a holiday (it also happened to be Ugadi/Gudi Padwa, celebrated here as the start of the summer Navratri). On Tuesday was 'Tehsil divas', a day when the DM meets block-level officials and staff and the public can file applications, complaints etc.

A lot of planning had gone on at the village level to get a number of applications filed on this day. When we got to Mishrikh with Richa and Sharmaji, we found a number of Sangathan members along with Surbala and Reena conferring over applications. We also met a number of core members such as Rambeti, Shammu and Tama. Richa and Sharmaji had to go on to Lucknow and soon left us. We stuck around, sometimes taking a peek into the block office to watch the proceedings. That might have been detrimental though – a lot of officials spent more time staring at us than looking at the applications in front of them.

After all the forms had been submitted and a receiving number and signature was registered on each copy, we adjourned to the Dak Bungalow. There were 20-30 Sangtin members and others kept joining in. The topic of discussion was the Pradhan demonstration the next day. The Pradhan association had threatened a demonstration if the DM wouldn't accede to their demands and dissolve the enquiry committee. It was quite possible that there would be a big turnout at this rally – the Pradhans were booking 'trolleys', trailers that could be hitched to a tractor, to go to Sitapur. If nothing else, villagers would get a chance to go to Sitapur free of cost! And of course, there were some who were in the Pradhans' camp to start with. This group of people were focused on making sure their supporters would not get onto the trolleys. They went over what arguments they could make and who to talk to. The meeting started and ended with songs – Tama has a powerful voice and it was a pleasure to listen to him. Dwiji recorded the song on our mobile – quite a decent recording it was too!

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