Jal Satyagrahis of 25 villages of Bijnore in Uttar Pradesh along the river Ganga are on a protest since the past five days demanding a temporary bridge over the river and an embankment along it.
On Saturday they paid tribute to the victims of a boat accident that took place on August 24, last year. The Satyagrahis held up pictures of 10 women, who died when their boat had capsized in the swollen river.
For a long time, Bijnore’s Daibalgarh farmers have been demanding a bridge connecting their villages and fields to the other side. But all their petitions have not been heard so far. After last year’s accident when many women died, failed to move the administration, they say they have been forced to resort to what they call Jal Satyagraha.
Every day, hundreds of villagers are taking turns to stand in knee-deep water of the river as part of the protest at Daibalgarh village.
On Saturday, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait visited Daibalgarh village to ensure his support and paid homage to the deceased women, who had lost their lives in the accident.
The BKU leader said, “Sacrifice of these women will not go in vain. The agitation will go on till the process for construction of a temporary bridge and an embankment along the river is started.”
Tikait further said: “Farmers have to risk their lives every time they have to cross the river to work in their fields. Every year, during monsoon, the river erodes thousands of acres of farmland, robbing farmers of their livelihood besides submerging houses.”
The district officials have given assurance to the villagers that their demand will be met after water level recedes in October, but the protesters refused to relent.
Resham Devi, one of the Satyagrahis said, “We are struggling to survive since 1952 and demanding an embankment and a bridge over the river. Many governments have come and gone, all giving false assurances. Today, people of several villages, including Chaharwala, Beeruwala, Simali, Meerapur, Chaukpuri and Sukkhapur, have been displaced by the Ganga that keeps changing course.”