SHIMLA: Four months ago, when Kaushalya Devi needed surgery on her leg, the 83-year-old had to be carried on a cot to the motorable road outside the village and then transferred to an ambulance.
For over five-six decades, the residents of the Lahru Tika village in Himachal Pradesh's Kangra district have been using the 200-metre-long stretch, about three feet wide, of an adjoining village to reach the motorable road.
The footpath is too narrow for four-wheelers -- and sometimes it takes a toll. Kaushalya Devi is doing well now after the surgery, but Subedar Bishamber Dass (retd) was not so fortunate The 300-odd residents of Lahru Tika have been pressing their demand of a proper road for over two decades now, but in vain, Kaushalya's nephew Vipin Kumar claimed.
Fed up with the neglect and the apathy of the authorities, the villagers have now decided to make it an election issue and have threatened to boycott the Lok Sabha polls.
Banners calling for a boycott of the parliamentary elections have come up in and around the village. "Road nahin tau vote nahin (No vote, without Road)," one of them reads.
Located some 35 km west of district headquarters Dharamsala and about 180 km from state capital Shimla, Lahru Tika falls under the Sullah assembly segment of the Kangra parliamentary seat.
The villagers also met Kangra BJP candidate Kishan Kapoor, who is the state Food, Civil Supplies and Consumers Affairs minister, and Sullah MLA Vipin Singh Parmar, the state Health Minister, when they were passing through the main road near Lahru Tika on April 2 along with their supporters.
They even raised "Road nahi tau vote Nahi" and "Road dau, vote lau (Construct road, get votes)" slogans at them.
Kaushalya Devi is doing well now after the surgery, Kumar said. Subedar Bishamber Dass (retd) was, however, not so fortunate.
He was paralysed and needed to be taken to the hospital frequently for treatment. This perilous routine took a toll on his health and he passed away several months ago.
The villagers have been using the narrow path, passing through a private land of the adjoining Matehar village to reach the motorable road, Kumar said.
"So, we demand that the government persuade private landowners to give some of their lands in public interest to construct a six-foot-wide road. If they do not provide land on their own, the government should acquire three feet more land to construct the road," he added.
Backing the demand, Naura Zila Parishad member Thakar Singh said, "The patients of Lahru Tika village face a lot of problems. Their demand is genuine and a proper road should be constructed to connect this village to the main road."
"(Prime Minister Narendra) Modi talks of digital India but how can we achieve a digital India without even proper roads connecting a village, that too in the 21st century," Kumar asks.
When contacted by PTI, MLA Parmar said,"The villagers reiterated their decision of boycotting the elections when we were passing through the village as part of our canvassing."
"Actually, the government has no land to construct the road. The private landowners are not providing their land. I told the villagers that you persuade the owners to provide their land. We will also try to persuade them," he added.
The villagers are ready to reconsider their if political parties give them a written assurance to build the road and a written promise by land-owners to provide the land, Kumar asserted.