Residents of Wasseypur queue up to cast their votes on Thursday. Picture by Gautam Dey
Dhanbad, April 24: Wasseypur, a real town of two lakh people near Dhanbad and subject of a fictional Bollywood magnum opus, woke up at the crack of dawn today to vote in the hope of cleansing a past rooted in violence spawned by illegal coal trade.
Among the first to exercise his franchise was Syed Imran Quadri (63) and his wife Farzana. Their idea of choosing from 31 MP-aspirants, including the BJP’s P.N. Singh, JVM’s Samresh Singh and MCC’s Anand Mahto, is to zero in on someone who can rid the town of perennial problems like poor sanitation, lack of drinking water and inadequate health care facilities.
“We live in a congenial atmosphere at Wasseypur where crime is less compared to any other locality in Dhanbad,” said the retired engineer of Eastern Coalfields Limited, debunking the idea that has gained ground ever since Gangs of Wasseypur, the film scripted by his son, Zeishan, jolted audiences out of their multiplex-induced slumber.
“My son’s movie was fiction and you better understand the meaning of fiction,” he told The Telegraph after casting his vote at a booth near Ara More, barely 3km from Dhanbad district headq- uarters.
A 5-hour and 19-minute film released in two parts — each around 2 hours 40 minutes — Gangs has been lauded as an over-the-top exposition on the violent escapades of the erstwhile coal mafia through the lives of three families, spanning five decades.
Its writer Zeishan, who grew up in the bylanes of Wasseypur and is now based out of Mumbai, admits being witness to a lot of what has been portrayed in the film, especially some of the characters that liven up proceedings. Yet, he doesn’t deny using fictional embellishments.
Today, his father Quadri and neighbours were out voting to demolish that past.
“You might be hearing about chain snatchings that occur regularly in Dhanbad’s posh localities of Housing Colony, Luby Circular, Hirapur and Jaiprakash Nagar. But have you ever heard of chain snatching in Wasseypur?” he asked.
A major grouse of the locality is that banks do not offer loans to local residents for small business.
“You can open an account in any of the banks by giving a residential address of Wasseypur. But when it comes to loans, officials will create lot of problems because you are from Wasseypur. I can’t understand this,” said Quadri.
Mohammed Jalil Ansari (64), a retired headmaster of Millat High School, insisted that crime was not an issue at Wasseypur.
“The real issue is lack of educational facilities. We have a population of around 2 lakh people, but there is no government school for girls in our locality. The only co-educational school is a minority institution which is not run by the government,” said Ansari after casting his vote at Zonal Training Institute, Bhuli.
Grocery shop owner Guljari Sao (55), educationist Parwez Akhtar (40) and his family, businessman Mohammed Shamshi Khan and motor mechanic Mohammed Salauddin (48) were among those who voted early.
While Sao and Akhtar said they wanted a “stable government”, Salauddin’s only wish was a job.
“Lack of employment opportunities is the biggest problem affecting our nation. Had I got work here, I would not have to live in Asansol,” said the Wasseypur resident who travelled from the neighbouring town of Bengal to cast his vote.
Faiz Ahmed, officer at booth 76, looked satisfied. The turnout has been encouraging and voting peaceful. “Our locality is more peaceful compared to other parts of the district,” he said.