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Case in point: 27 visits to CM darbar, but no sign of relief

6-year struggle for Gaya farmer

Patna, Dec. 13: Twenty-seven and counting.

That’s the number of journeys 73-year-old Bishandeo Choudhary has made from the backwaters in south Bihar’s Gaya district to the janata darbar of chief minister Nitish Kumar over the past six years in the hope of finding a solution to his problems.

His woes: Bishandeo says a portion of his land has been captured by a muscleman in his village, forcing him to incur a loss of Rs 6 lakh every year. Also, his pump is not working because of shortage of power supply.

The septuagenarian paddy grower from Rupaspur block, about 120km south of Patna, was among those who lined up at the first darbar held by Nitish after he stormed to power in 2005. Six winters later, little has changed for the frail farmer, who doggedly continues to make the three-hour train journey to the state capital four times a year.

Tired of knocking on the state’s highest authority in his quest for justice, Bishandeo today turned up at the janata darbar of deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi.

“I have visited the chief minister 27 times at his janata darbar in the hope of getting justice. But justice has so far eluded me. The chief minister has not given me any assurance in spite of 27 visits,” said Bishandeo, who had brought with him as proof 27 entry cards to the janata darbars, all bearing the stamp of the chief minister’s office.

“The claim of susashan (good governance) is a farce. One man who wields muscle-power has captured my land. And there is no electricity supply to start my pump and irrigate my parched fields,” he said.

Modi, however, was unwilling to accept that Bishandeo’s plight in any way dented the image of susashan carved out by the government. “There are certain issues which should be taken up at the level of the district magistrate, superintendent of police and the local executive and judicial establishments. The janata darbar at our level is not an appropriate place for such problems,” he said.

Modi argued that there were some people who have refused to understand which problems they should bring to the darbars of the chief minister and his deputy.

The senior leader may have his demarcations about what constitutes problems fit enough for the exalted darbars, but common people such as Bishandeo expect redress.

The elderly farm hand said if 27 visits by an old man did not spur action, nothing would. “I have visited the offices of the district magistrate and police superintendent umpteen number of times. But nothing has worked,” he said. “My family is suffering because my land stands grabbed by others. Police have taken no action against the offender.”

But Bishandeo has refused to give up. Asked why he kept visiting the darbars time and again despite getting no relief, he recited a verse penned by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee: “Har nahin manunga, raar nahi thanunga (Neither will I concede defeat nor will I push myself beyond the limit of the law). I will keep on pleading my case till the end. I am sure I will get justice one day.”