LS polls 2019: Nationalism no guarantee for poll success in this village of martyrs

Locals said that the village has at least 250 retired and 250 serving personnel in the Indian armed forces.
Mohammad Hafeez Khan
Mohammad Hafeez Khan

DHANURI (JHUNJHUNU): The dilemma for Jhunjhunu’s Dhanuri village, which sends most of its youth to the armed forces, is quite basic: how to pick its representative when all that the parties are talking about is nationalism in a place where clean water, power supplies and lack of employment is a big concern.

People of the Muslim dominated village, also known as Shaheedon ka Gaon (a village of martyrs), also rue how, like many other Muslims, they are at times asked to prove their patriotism when they go to other cities in search of work. Locals said that the village has at least 250 retired and 250 serving personnel in the Indian armed forces.

“There has not been a single war where soldiers from Dhanuri have not fought for the country. We have at least 19 war martyrs,” said Siraj Ahmad Khan, adding almost every house in the village has at least one family member in the armed forces.

According to 2011 census, Dhanuri had a total population of 3,454, of which 1,644 are men. Communal harmony is evident in the village. Hindus and Muslims work together and live next to each other, unlike most parts of Rajsthan where Hindus and Muslims live in separate mohallas. Fateh Ram, who works at a tailoring shop of Intezar Ali Khan, said, “There has never been any communal tension in the village. Just like the Indian army, we live, eat , celebrate festivals together.”

Khan, added, “Lack of job opportunities and dirty water is the biggest problem here.”
However, he praised BJP candidate Narendra Kumar, the sitting MLA from Madawa, for his accessibility, saying he will vote for him.

Retired army personnel Saleh Mohammad Khan, whose son is serving in the Army, said Kumar may be a strong candidate but his party has been threatening the “Ganga-Jamuna tehzeeb” of the country. “We don’t need lessons on nationalism from them. They are dividing the country on communal lines.  I will vote against this.”

Locals said there’s not one structure in the village that stands in tribute to the courage of its martyrs, except a government school recently renamed after the 1971 war hero Major MH Khan. His younger brother Mohammad Hafeez Khan said, “My brother, a Vir Chakra awardee, was killed two days after he successfully led a raid and destroyed a target in the Pakistani camp during 1971 War. These days, such raids are called “surgical strikes” and are politicized.”

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The New Indian Express