Saturday, April 12, 2008

Five villages become litigation-free, thanks to the efforts of one man

A legal battle can be more devastating than a jail term. Two Sharma families of Vishunapur village in Kaimur district know it well.

Dukhant Sharma, 55, was involved in legal battle with Ramjanam Sharma, 60, for 30 years. During this period, Dukhant's son Baban Sharma struggled to complete his education till Class VIII as the family's earnings from carpentry went towards litigation expenses, which ran into lakhs of rupees. It left them impoverished. The case of Ramjanam was no different.

Things changed after the panchayat elections in 2003. An energetic young man, Ashok Kumar Pandey, was elected the mukhiya of Kharenda panchayat, in which Vishunapur falls. Pandey persuaded the Sharmas to end their dispute. A compromise petition was filed in the district court. Today, the Sharmas are a content lot.

"In the past four years, we have saved lakhs of rupees by engaging ourselves in carpentry," said Baban. Ramjanam's family members, too, do not have to spend their earnings from the farm on litigations. "Mukhiyaji proved to be a god for me," Ramjanam said.

Pandey's intervention has helped more than 100 families in 13 villages of the panchayat end their disputes. The district legal cell has declared the villages of Uchinar, Vishunapur, Bhorya, Hurda Khurd and Sonao as litigation-free. The remaining villages will soon be added to the list.

Pandey has a knack and a passion for settling disputes, as was seen in the quarrel between Shyamlal Kahar and Harimohan Kahar. Shyamlal went to the police to file a case after he was injured in a scuffle with fellow villager Harimohan.

When Pandey learnt about the incident, he rushed to the police station and, with the help of the sub-inspector, worked out a compromise.

It took five years for Pandey to change the face of the crime-ridden panchayat, which was once terrorised by dacoit Mohan Bind. It was a goal he had set for himself in childhood. "I had resolved that one day I would make the area crime-free," said Pandey.

After completing his LLB from Banaras Hindu University in 1994, Pandey started taking keen interest in the affairs of the panchayat. "Even as I was studying, I set time aside to understand the problems of the people of my village," he said. That villagers had forced Pandey, a Brahmin, to contest elections from a village where the majority of people belonged to the extremely backward caste speaks for his popularity.

"I would not have been able to achieve this without the support of the district administration and the peace-loving people of my panchayat," he said.

Pandey's father, Vijay Shanker Pandey, who was the mukhiya of Kharenda for 25 years, is proud of his son. "I had not been able to make Kharenda crime-free despite several attempts during my term," said Vijay, who was elected to the Bhabhua Assembly seat in 1990. "I have advised him not to join any political party if he really wants to serve the people," he said.

Pandey's next mission is to make Kharenda, which has 6,500 voters, a 100 per cent literate panchayat, and poverty-free. The literacy rate of Kharenda is 65 per cent, compared to Bihar's 48 per cent.

"I am motivating people to send their children to school," he said. "I am sure when you come here next time, the panchayat will have 100 per cent literacy."

By Kanhaiah Bhelari

Source: http://www.socialcause.org/getarticlefromdb.php?id=1794

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

No comments: