People Fight ‘Puppet’ Panchayats in Rural Chhattisgarh

In recent days, the newspapers and television stations have flooded us with the government cracking down in fine fascist form on citizens who seek to expose the rot and corruption that has set into the nation’s democratic process. The vibe may convince you that the action is unfolding exclusively between the power corridors and streets of the capital but in today’s video, IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent Bhan Sahu chronicles the efforts of 50 spirited families in an agrarian village and how their quest for clean governance is being thwarted by the local powers that be.

“It is such incidents that cause people to lose their faith in democracy,” says Bhan. “The local authorities seem to be running a fiefdom in utter disregard of our constitution. Why shouldn’t the people then chose anarchy?”

The village of Basanwahi in district Kanker, Chhattisgarh, watched quietly for years as the local headwoman, hand-in-hand with other government authorities, looted the public funds. Promised developments were found only on paper. Government land was being misused. Accounts were being fudged. Any attempts by the villagers to question were met with lying, bullying, skirting and general discouraging.

It was only when the villagers got together and filed a Right To Information Petition that they received proof of the massive loot that was being carried out under their noses. They unearthed lakhs worth of corruption in the small village. The matter was taken to the District Collector. He suspended the village head and order an official investigations.

But celebration time was limited. The authorities got together and chose a puppet headwoman who has till date not received any proof of her appointment. The authorities insist that it is still in ‘process’. Meanwhile a few more lakhs have disappeared. The people questioned the authorities. They replied that since the village headwoman was yet to be formally appointed, that ‘no new cheques were issued.’

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