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In this concluding copy of the series of sorry silk saga stories, we here once uphold the plights and miseries of silk weaver at Bhagalpur, partly not because of their fateful future rather by mainly due to the prolong drama by the politicians in the name of revival of silk at Bhagalpur.
Bhagalpur riot virtually gifted Laloo Prasad to play a long inning in the state. After Laloo and Rabri Devi, Bihar has to witness NDA government’s two terms and present Mahagathbandhan government. Interestingly, all the government’s had posed good samaritans to riot victim silk weavers here, but nothing has done for them so far.
Politicians’ planted dreams gift only frustration to riot ravaged silk weavers :
Dream that projected by the politicians to woo the riot effected weavers in this ancient silk city since after the 1989 carnage, continues to haunt Rajendra Das, Md. Khuram and many villagers in this sleepy hamlet which once was the hub of silk industry.
Hardly 25 Km away from the district headquarters and falling under Nathnagar block , villagers once dreamed government’s compensation just after the riots. Even getting nothing from the government, people of this weavers/ silk manufacturers dominated village that time started dreaming after state government assured them with rehabilitation package from schedule tribe/ caste weavers Nigam, a central governmental project.
The Nigam released Rs 8.50 crores under the scheme for welfare of the riot ravaged silk weavers of Bhagalpur during the financial year 1990-91.Under the scheme it was decided to constitute cooperative societies for the victim weavers and provision of financial helps to revive the traditional silk industry was also decided.
“Look the weavers shades which constructed on 2001are yet to function and we are waiting for the time when it would start functioning,” Md. Ibrahim of Belkhuriya Panchayt said. Under the rehabilitation project, it was decided to construct 56 weavers’ shades under Chanan command development agency (CADA) funds in the district where training could be given to the members of the weavers’ cooperative societies. It was also decided to provide power looms as well as financial helps to the societies.
“Look the conditions four completed shades, we started using it as our cattle shades and the six incomplete weavers shades shows the attitude of the government,” said Ghanashyam Das, another villager. Villagers here objected the recent arresting of one riot accuse recently. “12 people lost their lives by the hands of outsiders here but the village had the tradition to celebrate any functions jointly. Reopening of the old cases is nothing but a political gimmick. Government should give priorities in the rehabilitation measures of the weavers,” villagers pointed out.
State minister, Sudha Srivastava, a powerful figure of Bhagalpur who at that time was representing Nathnagar assembly segment. “She hardly bothered for the plights of weavers but during poll times, she used to gear up only,” many weavers recall here.
Md. Noor Ansari in Seikhpura, another weaver dominated village under Sahakund block does not know about any government project meant for the weavers but he easily count dozens names of the neo-suppliers of artificial China-Korea yarn with their address. Earlier before the riot there were more than 170 handlooms in the village which today reduced into 50 only. Large number of the weavers has engaged in extracting soil from the river bed of Orni, flowing western side of the village. “With day long labour we get Rs 120-170 from the sand loading to tractors which is not possible in weaving silk,” many villagers admitted. However, approach road to the village converted into “mud pond” as hundreds of tractors started playing to transport sand to distant places.
“Rabri Devi government had earlier on 2001 stopped the measures for completing the rehabilitation of the riot victims. Contrary, while during the tenure of our government (NDA led Nitish government), it had exempted the loans in the tune of Rs 1.32 Crore among the victim weavers on 2006,” claimed Khoka Choubey , a relative former urban development minister, Bihar, Ashwani Choubey. Choubey is presently migrated to Baxur where he became BJP’s MP.
Ashwani Choubey is a native of Dariyapur, village falling under silk weavers dominated Sahakund block in Bhagalpur.
Khokha Choubey further alleged that earlier the district industrial department sanctioned compensations to the riot victim weavers but later banks started claiming it as loans. “Many victims were sent to jail and certificate cases were lodged against many during the tenure of Laloo,” he recalled. However, he claimed since Ashwani Choubey presently enjoys an important post in central silk board of union government, he has been busy how to improve the conditions of silk weavers at his home turf.
Many intellectuals and social activists also blamed politicians here for ignoring the issue of silk weavers. “Bihar institute of silk and textile here is the only institution of its kind in south east Asia to impart technical degrees in Sericulture, closed due to government apathy. Why leaders concerned are not serious about it? said Gunjan Kumar, a resident here.
Debasish Benerjee, a former ward councilor and social activist at Champanagar locality outskirt of Bhagalpur city which is dominated by weavers and looms, alleged the government which yet not settle the dispute of electric bills.