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Model makeover for martyr hamlets

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SANTOSH K. KIRO   |     |   Published 09.01.10, 12:00 AM

Ranchi, Jan. 8: For over 150 years the martyr hamlets of Khatanga and Khudia-Lotwa have languished in neglect, at times almost slipping into oblivion. But not any longer.

The Ranchi district administration has decided to commemorate the 152nd death anniversary of Raja Tikait Umrao Singh and his dewan Sheikh Bhikari — both heroes of the Revolt of 1857 — by mapping “holistic development” of their native villages.

The blueprint to develop Khatanga and Khudia-Lotwa as model villages is being prepared. It will create livelihood for migrant villagers and ensure that descendants of the martyrs live with dignity.

“We plan holistic development of these villages, with special focus on the economical condition of the martyrs’ descendants,” deputy commissioner K.K. Soan said.

He further said that district officials were sent to Khatanga, the native village of Tikait, and Khudia-Lotwa, the birthplace of Sheikh Bhikari, yesterday for a ground study.

History says Tikait was the ruler of a small kingdom, Bandhgawa, in Ormanjhi, which is now a block of Ranchi. He and his dewan had crossed swords with the British army in 1857. They were captured after the battle and hanged at Chutupalu Ghati — now NH-33 — on January 8, 1858.

While Khatanga has some 100 families, mostly tribal descendants of Singh, Khudia-Lotwa has 150 households.

“Our men are forced to migrate in search of livelihood. Our past glory is long lost,” rued Bharat Singh, a descendant of Tikait Umrao.

According to the villagers, the plan to transform the hamlet into a model village had its origin in unified Bihar, but the project never saw the light of the day.

But the administration seems to be sincere in its efforts this time. It has planned a check dam on river Domba that flows through Khatanga. The objective is to irrigate about 200 acres of land owned by the villagers.

Both Khatanga and Khudia-Lotwa are also set to get 10 wells each, with the authorities focussing on agriculture. “Besides, we will urgently push other development programmes in these villages,” Soan said.

Lal Praveer Nath Shahdeo, a descendant of Vishwanath Shahdeo, also a 1857 martyr, said they had urged the deputy commissioner to ensure poultry and pig farms in the villages. “We need a lift irrigation project in our village apart from wells for steady economic growth,” added Sheikh Barik, a descendant of Bhikari. Khudia-Lotwa is situated just beside the Rukka Dam and only a lift irrigation system can breathe life into the villages’ parched fields.

Villagers and descendants of Tikait and Bhikari today remembered their brave forefathers with a floral tribute.

Senior Congress leader and Union minister for food processing Subodh Kant Sahay also called to say that the hamlets would be developed into pilgrim spots.

“Any attempt to convert the place, where the two freedom fighters were hanged, into part of the proposed four-lane NH-33 will not be allowed,” he assured the villagers during a telephonic conversation.

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