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Hurt Gulgulias to boycott polls

The ‘ostracised’ Gulgulia community in Dhanbad has decided not to exercise their franchise in the Lok Sabha elections as a mark of protest against the administration and political class’s apathy towards their plight. But at the same time, they will urge others who are entitled to basic welfare schemes to cast their votes and strengthen the democracy.

Deprived of BPL cards, pucca houses, drinking water and benefits of government schemes like Antyodaya Yojana and Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana, over 100 members of this ‘untouchable’ community of mostly rickshaw-pullers and beggars announced their decision at Upper Tilha village at Pandeydih, Katras, on Monday.

The Gugulia men and women assembled at the village grounds, around 30km from district headquarters, at 8am. Holding banners with slogans like “Hamein prashashan aadmi nahi samajhta, hum vote kyun den? (The administration doesn’t consider us as humans, why should we vote then?”), they shouted against the government.

“We are compelled to take the extreme step due to the indifferent attitude of the government towards us. None of the 100 families in our village has houses. We are compelled to live under tarpaulin sheets,” said Prakash Gulgulia.

The villagers also slammed the administration for failing to give them BPL cards. “I can’t send my three children to school in the absence of a BPL card. They are forced to beg along with their mother as my daily income of Rs 60-70 is not sufficient,” added Prakash, a rickshaw-puller.

Around noon, the Gulgulias held a public meeting in the presence of Birju Bauri, the councillor of ward No. 5 under which Pandeydih falls.

The councillor acknowledged that their problems were genuine but requested them to show that they were not against democracy by convincing others to at least cast their votes. “Being responsible citizens, we would definitely appeal to others not to support us but instead turn up at the polling booths to vote,” said Rupendra Gulgulia.

Returning the favour, councillor Bauri promised to raise their plight at the next board meeting of Dhanbad Municipal Corporation.


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