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Home News A Triumph of Resilience: Rajaram Purwa villagers conquer neglect with unyielding determination

A Triumph of Resilience: Rajaram Purwa villagers conquer neglect with unyielding determination

By Biswajeet Banerjee

Raj Ratti, a woman in her late 50s, draped her saree pallu over her head and passionately questioned, “Aren’t we human beings? Don’t we deserve access to water, roads, and electricity? Why do city-dwellers treat us like animals?”

Her words encapsulate the desperate situation faced by the villagers of Rajaram Purwa, a village located approximately 25 kilometers from Banda in the scenic landscape of Bundelkhand. The residents, predominantly from the Dalit and Tribal communities, have long been trapped in a cycle of despair, lacking even the most basic necessities. Frustrated by the neglect of the callous administration, their plight has reached a boiling point, leading them to rise in protest.

The village of Rajaram Purwa has been neglected for far too long, leaving its inhabitants to fend for themselves without essential facilities such as roads, hospitals, and schools. Illiteracy is rampant among the villagers, who primarily work as menial laborers. Due to the lack of a road, government representatives seldom visit the area, exacerbating the villagers’ isolation. With no school or Primary Health Centre (PHC) in the vicinity, the presence of government officials is practically nonexistent.

The villagers firmly believed that the key to development lay in constructing a road within their village. However, this long-pending proposal has faced repeated delays over the decades. Despite several visits by surveyors to identify suitable land for the road, the upper-caste villagers of adjoining villages have consistently denied access to their land, adding a caste-based dimension to the struggle.

Raja Bhaiya, convener of the NGO Vidya Dham Samiti, shed light on this aspect, stating, “This struggle has a caste angle too. The road and basic facilities were denied to the residents of Rajaram Purwa only because it would benefit Dalits and Tribals. The villagers initiated a protest last year as well, but withdrew after receiving assurances from government officials.”

Determined to effect change this time, the women of the region took up the mantle of protest. On June 21, they commenced their demonstration, vowing to persist until their demands were met. The tranquil chaupal of Rajaram Purwa transformed into a battleground resonating with cries of desperation and silent tears as women, some with children in tow and others carrying shovels or even goats, gathered at the protest site. Sitting for hours, each woman held a wooden stick symbolizing empowerment and an unwavering commitment to fight until the end.

Vimla, a resident of the locality, expressed the collective spirit of the struggle, stating, “It is a collective battle. This fight is not for personal gain. The government has neglected us.” Her words echo the anguish of an entire community pushed to the brink of desperation, their voices silenced and pleas ignored for far too long.

The stories of suffering in Rajaram Purwa and neighboring villages of Mahua block depict human resilience overshadowed by neglect. Life in this forgotten corner of Bundelkhand has become an everyday struggle. Villagers plagued by illness have no choice but to endure the pain of being carried on makeshift cots for over 20 kilometers to reach the nearest transportation. This perilous journey races against time, with lives hanging in the balance between hope and despair. The absence of a nearby hospital further exacerbates their anguish, leaving them teetering on the edge of survival.

The young children of Rajaram Purwa have been robbed of their innocence, deprived of their fundamental right to education. Schools remain distant dreams in this forsaken land. Aimlessly wandering through barren streets, they are denied the opportunity to attend school and experience the wonders that the world has to offer. Aanganwadis, the sanctuaries where early childhood should bloom, are nothing more than fleeting illusions.

For the first three days of the protest, their struggle went unnoticed. However, on the fourth day, the women declared their intention to stage a fast-unto-death and word of their determination spread throughout the district headquarters.

Shyamkali, who stood at the forefront of the protest, recounted an incident when a Lekhpal threatened to put them behind bars if they didn’t end the protest. Undeterred by the threat the villagers continued the protest.

She stated, “We were adamant to continue with the stir and were determined not to be silenced by the threats. The yearning for something as basic as a road, a lifeline connecting us to the outside world, and a hospital to alleviate our suffering became stronger with each passing moment.”

In this arduous battle, women emerged as the pillars of strength. Despite societal norms that often relegate women to the background, these fierce warriors took center stage.

Lalita Rani proudly declared, “We stood shoulder to shoulder, with our hearts beating in unison, as we confronted those in power. Our unwavering determination and unyielding spirit breathed life into our struggle, igniting a flame of hope that spread through the hearts of the villagers.”

With each passing day, a glimmer of hope emerged on the horizon. Women from neighboring villages joined the protest, and as the number of women demanding their rights swelled, the air became pregnant with anticipation.

On the seventh day of the protest, Rama Shankar Singh, the District Development Officer, met with the agitating women. Initially, he tried to persuade them to end their sit-in protest, but the villagers refused, insisting that the construction of the road must commence.

“We told the official that we will lift the dharna (sit-in protest) only when the construction of the road begins. We have been deceived by officials in the past. This time, we were adamant not to be swayed by their lies,” Vimla said.

Finally, on June 29, after nine days of protest, the construction of the road began.

Prabha Gupta, a Member of the State Commission for Women who played a crucial role in ensuring the start of road construction, shared her perspective. “I have witnessed the pain etched on the faces of these women who have borne the burden of their families suffering for far too long. In their eyes, I see resilience and strength that refuses to be silenced,” she remarked.

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The construction of the road has also brought employment opportunities for the village’s youth. Around 25 young individuals from Rajaram Purwa were provided job cards under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for their participation in road construction.

Gupta added, “The road to redemption may be long and challenging, but it has finally begun. Rajaram Purwa will no longer languish in the shadows as progress slowly arrives in this forgotten corner of the world.”

Raja Bhaiya of Vidya Dham Samiti said that through their unity and unwavering voices, the villagers of Rajaram Purwa have emerged victorious. Their struggle serves as a testament to the indomitable spirit of humanity, reminding us that each and every one of us has the power to effect change.

Prabha Gupta concluded, “We bear witness to the triumph of resilience today as the plight of the villagers in Rajaram Purwa becomes imprinted in our collective consciousness. Let their struggle ignite a flame within us all, compelling us to fight for the rights of the marginalized, the forgotten, and the voiceless. May their victory serve as a clarion call for a brighter future, where no village is left behind and no plea goes unheard.”

–Author Biswajeet Banerjee, a senior journalist of Uttar Pradesh based in Lucknow, can be contacted at

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