We are going to cast vote for candidates who stress on unity between members of various communities, not for those who believe in dividing. Divide and rule is the worst political tactics and we will not support it.
Keshe Bhandari, a Tikapur Municipality resident
TIKAPUR, June 20: Ujayaram Ghartimagar, 88, is eagerly waiting for June 28 to come so that he could cast vote. He considers it to be a great opportunity for him to be able to elect local representatives after a 20-year haul.
“I have cast votes in several elections in my life. Though the candidates I voted did not always win the elections, the ability to vote itself has always given me a huge sense of satisfaction,” he shared with Republica recently.
Ghartimagar says that he has understood the importance of electing representatives even more now. A resident of Tikapur Municipality he feels much concerned about the ways politics can go bad after the Tikapur incident of 24 August 2015. The infamous brutal killing of eight police personnel and a toddler during the Tharuhat agitation turned the situation ugly all of a sudden in this otherwise peaceful town. It not only affected the protests but also disturbed communal harmony in the society.
It took a while for the Tharus and other community members to come closer. Realizing that the protests had hurt their social harmony, members from all the communities have been ever since tried to restore and strengthen communal harmony, Ghartimagar said.
“That incident has left a deep scar in our heart. We tremble when we reflect back on the incidents that took place on that fateful day,” he said. “We always lived in harmony, always been there for each other. We never imaged that such an ugly moment would ever come our way one day.”
Killing of the security personnel with sharp weapons and the merciless shooting of a two-year toddler was enough to disturb everyone in Tikapur. Eyewitnesses were even devastated. Ghartmagar was one of them.
“I am a witness to that horrific and brutal scene. I just wish that such incidents never repeat. It's of no use to live in a scary atmosphere as in those days. Losing communal harmony is the biggest thing to loose,” he said. “And it is not only me who has realized this. Communal harmony is beauty of any given society and we can have a beautiful life only if we can keep it intact,” he added.
Hence he has decided that this time he will be voting for candidates whose priority is restoring and grooming communal harmony. Candidates for parties that value peace and harmony is everyone's choice in his area, he claims.
Shankarpur area of Tikapur remained silent for weeks after the deadly killings, he said. His commodity shop is just at the turning of Shankarpur. When the incident happened, he was at the shop as usual. He was witnessing scuffle between agitators and police. “The square which was always peaceful and vibrant, turned into a battle ground in a matter of seconds,” he said. “I am very old and in the decades that I have lived through here I had never seen such heinous violence ever and I never want to see it again,” he said adding that he has been living in Tikapur since 1974.
Though the carnage has shaken him deep inside, he however feels hopeful things are now changing for good. “I always give this message to all that Tharus and Pahadi people must live in harmony. And I feel good to realize that everyone feels the same,” he remarked. “I give the same message to candidates who are fielding for various posts in the local level elections here. Harmony is the most important thing that Tikapur wants and everyone is equally positive about its importance,” he added.
Keshe Bhandari, 74, reported that he has high regards for the Tharu member of the community and he believes that Tharus have the same regard for members of hill community (pahadi). “Tharu population is dominant in this area. But all of us live in harmony. We have social harmony here, we only need to strengthen it further,” he said.
“We are going to cast vote for candidates who stress on unity between members of various communities, not for those who believe in dividing. Divide and rule is the worst political tactics and we will not support it,” said Bhandari. “We are much aware about the repercussions of divisive politics now. We won't support a candidate or a party who may sow seeds of conflict in the community,” he added.
Area Police Officer DSP Sudeepraj Pathak, assured of harmonious atmosphere during the local polls in the area. He said that there has been no sign of anti social activities in the town. “So far, we have not recorded any signs of social conflict. However, we are on high alert,” he stated while adding that considering the Tikapur incident the government has marked few areas in Tikapur as most security sensitive zone. “And we have arranged heavy security in such areas,” Pathak added.