Failing to get any response, hapless villagers from three villages on the periphery of Jalandhar Cantonment on Sunday sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention in opening an unlawfully closed road by the Army authorities in Jalandhar Cantonment.
The villagers from Subhana, Hallotali, Dhina and Garha shared their ‘Mann ki Baat’ in the letter written to Prime Minister. They demanded that the PM should come to their rescue, as repeated attempts to approach the local MP, MLA and the Army top brass failed to yield any result.
On Sunday, the villagers along with panchayats of the three villagers highlighted that in the year 1928, the Garha-Nurmahal road was blocked by the Army due to a firing range in Dhina village. “We have taken up this issue with the top officials and the politicians but to no avail. Finally, we have written to PM Modi to intervene in the matter”, the villagers said.“Later in the year 1935, Jalandhar Cantonment Board and District administration gave a periphery road to the three villages. Recently, in the year 2007, the army authorities citing security reasons deliberately closed this periphery road also. The Army authorities constructed walls and dug up the periphery road forcing people to use it in a poor condition”, said Malkit Singh, the sarpanch of Subhana.
Calling themselves ‘slaves’ in their own villages, the villagers said that firstly the army authorities illegally occupied the road, now they were forcibly taking control of the periphery road too. “The Ministry of Defence (MoD) in its letter dated January 7, 2015 had stated that under Section 258 of the Cantonment Board Act 2006, the closed road should be opened within 30 days. However, a year and a half has passed and no action was taken till date”, he said.
The villagers shared that it was sorry to note that a section of officials was give two hoots to the Indian Constitution, Ministry of Defence and the orders of the Supreme Court in this case. “A week ago on September 9, Jalandhar MP Santokh Singh Chaudhary has assured that he would convene a joint meeting of the Army officials and the Cantonment Board authorities with the villagers but there seems to be little hope in this issue”, said Dhina panchayat member Surinder Kaur.
Now, we were dependent on PM Modi, who has been reaching out to the masses through his ‘Man ki Baat’ programme. “We were hopeful that you (PM Modi) would come to our rescue and sort out the long pending public demand of the villagers”, Harvinder Setia.It is pertinent to mention here that on December 24, 2013, a meeting in this regard was conducted by Jalandhar Divisional Commissioner but no action was taken. Notably, the army has earlier constructed fencing around the periphery road leading to problems for the residents on this stretch.
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