|The tragic conditions in which vansfoda families stay along|
of Boratwada village for many years now, last year when the families were stationed near the village lake the flash flood of July 2015 swept away their shanties and belongings. These families who barely managed to survive had been clinging to their traditional occupation of bamboo basketry. Distraught with the massive loss they suffered during this natural calamity,
VSSM’s Mohanbhai had facilitated the process of issuance of Ration Cards and Voter ID cards from Boratwada village. Subsequently the families were to apply for allotment of residential plots as well and had been in process of accumulating the required documents. The need for income certificates brought them and Mohanbhai to the Mamlatdar’s office where they were shown a letter signed by 200 villagers opposing allotment of land to these 6 families!!!!
“My heart skipped a beat on hearing what the Mamlatdar had to show whereas the families’ faces turned pale with the looming uncertainties…” narrated a rather distraught Mohanbhai.
Hard-working and persistent that he is, Mohanbhai decided to meet the Boratwada Panchyat members and try convincing them.
“ You are unnecessarily dragging the matter, we have decided we do not want to give any land to these Vansfoda!!” said a member.
“Sir, they are just 6 families and they have been here for years. You all have helped them get ration cards, now if you could just support an bit more they would atleast have a decent roof on their head and protection from such natural calamities!!” explained Mohanbhai.
“Don’t you get it, we said no and no means no!! SO what if we supported with the ration cards, that doesn’t mean we will give away land to them. You shouldn’t be taking advantage of our goodwill,” was a harsh reply from another member.
“Where will they go from here, they are so poor and this is the place they call home!” tried Mohanbhai.
“That is not our lookout. We allow them in our village and what if they become our ‘Saheb’ tomorrow?” argued one of the members.
“Saheb!!” said Mohanbhai
“Ofcourse. What if the government declares a reserved seat for this village during the panchayat polls. We will have to vote for them and call them Saheb!!”
“Sir, no such norms apply for these communities and they are just 6 families having 12 voters. Nothing like that can ever happen,” explained Mohanbhai.
“These communities have been pampered a lot by the government. Now if you can stop arguing and leave the office!!” they said asking Mohanbhai to leave.
Mohanbhai had no choice but to leave the office. It is heart breaking to experience such baseless and absurd reasoning from village elders who we expect to be wise and compassionate. As for now, the struggle continues.
“We stay in a corner of a village so that we do not become hindrance to anyone, we have never interfered in the matters concerning the village and yet the villagers are refusing our permanent settlement in the village. Where will we go if all of them keep refusing our settling down??” lamented these families
“I was small when my parents brought me here, I have grown up here. The letter the Mamlatdar gave saying 200 people refusing to allow us to settle here! On listening to Mamlatdar I went and met the leaders, told them we aren’t asking land for farming, we just want small piece of it to build 6 houses. I feel like I have been sacked out of my house. I just do not want to go anywhere from here, have lived here and will die here!!” is what heartbroken Rameshbhai Vansfoda had to say after experiencing such dejection.
Its either the rigid mindsets of the society or the utter sluggishness of authorities on acting upon the filed applications there is always some reason that keeps these and thousands of extremely poor nomadic families from raising their fundamental rights to this country…Amongst all such depressing events there is always that hope that keeps us moving and the families hoping for a better tomorrow.