A village that boasts of being crime-freeBy Asit Srivastava, IANS
Monday, January 3, 2011
LUCKNOW - No murders or kidnappings, not even petty crimes like chain snatchings and thefts in the past 15 years! This is the proud record of a small village in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Welcome to Takhta village in Gorakhpur district, some 300 km from Lucknow, whose 1,500-odd residents take pride in the unique distinction of their native place.
And if you think it’s only the locals who claim that Takhta is “the crime-free world of Uttar Pradesh”, you are wrong.
Even the records of the Sahjanwa police station, under whose jurisdiction the village falls, attest the villagers’ claim.
“Even I was surprised when I came to know about the unique distinction of the village… It appeared unbelievable to me too when I was attached to the police station three years ago,” acting Station House Officer (SHO) Lallan Singh told IANS on phone from Gorakhpur.
“Forget about the major crimes like murders or kidnapping, even petty crimes like chain snatchings and thefts have not taken place in the village. Every police officer would surely wish the areas coming under his jurisdiction transforms to a Takhta,” added Singh.
In fact, he was at a loss to even locate the details of the last crime registered at the police station.
“You know old records have to be opened for this… It would be a time-consuming process,” he said.
So, what’s the secret?
Locals say their crime-free status does not mean the absence of disputes, but the presence of effective redressal mechanisms.
Like other villagers, Takhta residents too witness disputes among themselves, but those are solved by the intervention of the elders and the panchayat members of the village.
“It’s not that differences do not take place among the villagers. For example, incidents of land encroachments and land grabbing, which are common in almost all the villages, take place in Takhta as well. But all such issues and others are settled following the intervention of the elders,” former village head S.P. Tripathi, aged around 65 years, told IANS on phone.
“Whenever a villager feels that he has been cheated or has any type of complaint against his neighbours or any other person of the village, he approaches the village elders, who then try to settle the dispute,” Tripathi added.
According to locals, it’s the faith in the elders and their respect towards them which have made their village a study in peaceful co-existence.
“It would not be wrong if we call our village a small, crime-free world. It’s only because of the locals that the village has earned this unique identity. Had we been approaching the police every now and then to settle disputes, surely such a distinction would not have been possible,” said Harikrishna Tiwari, 65, a farmer and a proud native of Takhta village.
Of the 1,500-odd residents of Takhta, 75 percent are from the upper castes, primarily from the Brahmin community, with farming as their main occupation. A number of residents have also taken up jobs in public and private sector companies.
The village’s crime-free status is even more remarkable when compared to the rest of the state.
In 2009, a total of 148,012 criminal incidents took place in Uttar Pradesh, which included 4,004 murders, 2,066 dowry deaths and 1,451 rapes.
The figure for 2010 (till 20 Nov) is 144,675, which includes 3,782 murders, 1,923 dowry deaths and 1,216 rapes, official records show.
(Asit Srivastava can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)