A Muslim-dominated village of Uttar Pradesh formed the backdrop of a famous partition saga. What this microcosm of India reveals about the coming elections. Gangauli in Ghazipur district of eastern Uttar Pradesh is not just another village. Nearly 60 km from the district headquarters, this village on the banks of the Ganga owes its fame to the novelist Rahi Masoom Raza and his masterpiece Aadha Gaon Half a Village. More than six decades later, it remains so.
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A Muslim-dominated village of Uttar Pradesh formed the backdrop of a famous partition saga. What this microcosm of India reveals about the coming elections.
Gangauli in Ghazipur district of eastern Uttar Pradesh is not just another village. Nearly 60 km from the district headquarters, this village on the banks of the Ganga owes its fame to the novelist Rahi Masoom Raza and his masterpiece Aadha Gaon Half a Village. More than six decades later, it remains so. But it is readily known that Gangauli is a great attraction for those curious about India — more particularly about eastern UP.
Negotiating a difficult terrain from Varanasi to Ghazipur, we took a narrow but better road that connected the village to the district headquarters. Her young brother, Saiyyad Saqib, who has studied engineering in Pune, greeted us. In the novel, this locality is called Saiyyad Bara, the place of the Saiyyads at the top of the Muslim caste hierarchy.
But this does not hold true for the entire village. Yet there is no tension in the air. Political choices of people do not vitiate the atmosphere in Gangauli — it generates only debate. This is why a mosque with domes similar to those of the Babri mosque stands only a few yards away from a grand Shiva temple — on land donated by a Saiyyad landlord.
By all indications, Gangauli is unfazed by the tempestuous politics of Ghazipur, Varanasi, Lucknow or Delhi. This easygoing approach of village life drew Raza to pick up the story of Gangauli to explain the cataclysmic events before, during and after the partition. Aadha Gaon is a story of the Indian ethos that refuses to be swayed or defeated in the face of several onslaughts.
Gangauli is an archetypal Indian village with all its social strengths and vulnerabilities, all the while hanging on to its distinct identity. This is why we concluded our 3, km journey crisscrossing Uttar Pradesh, from Ghaziabad to Ghazipur, in Gangauli.
It prevails in western UP, the region worst affected by communal violence; riots have recently hit Ghaziabad, Meerut and Muzaffarnagar. This was quite evident in our tour to the riot-affected areas of Muzaffarnagar in February. Rioting had started on September 7 from Kawal and spread to neighbouring towns and villages, claiming 59 lives, displacing more than 50, from rural areas where they had been living for generations, and destroying property.
An incident of harassment of a Jat girl triggered the killing of a Muslim and, in revenge, counter-killing of two brothers of the girl.
The riots tore through the social fabric of the region. Several villages in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, where Jats and Muslims lived in relative peace, have become segregated along communal lines.
Refugees have refused to return home, fearing fresh violence. There is talk that western UP is intensely polarised along communal lines and that this will reflect in political choices in the coming elections. The implicit message being the consolidation of Hindu votes will favour the BJP in general and Narendra Modi in particular. Ground realities, though, do not support this assumption.
We met a scheduled caste man who was not particularly perturbed over the supposed polarisation. He added that barring a brief spell of clashes between Jats and Muslims, the area had remained largely peaceful. Shyam Khatik, owner of about 40 bigha land adjacent to Kawal town, draws from a similar equanimity. He is more forthright in his assessment of the situation. This points to a disturbing aspect of the village polity: such failures are not episodic, they are endemic in UP.
With the state increasingly seen as an effete and partisan institution, the vacuum is filled by those enjoying the clout of money and muscle. Such a setting naturally favours musclemen masquerading as politicians. The stage is ideal for macho posturing. Though they have been uprooted from their homes and villages, the refugees here do not speak of revenge; they want to move on, to a better life. Relief operations were in full swing thanks to generous support from voluntary organisations.
He has handled several communal riots before retiring from the Indian Police Service. He sees these riots as a manifestation of hypocrisy. The Muzaffarnagar riots are a classic case of increasingly marginalised and ineffectual role of the state in governance. One of the seniormost police officers tasked to control the riots confided with us that it would not be wrong to say that riots served the political interests of all key parties — the BSP, SP and the BJP.
They do not hesitate from exhibiting their manliness by organising killings and riots at the slightest pretext, knowing well that they can get away. A glaring example was the killing of a young deputy superintendent of police, Zia Ul Haque, at Kunda of Pratapgarh district last year, as also the manner in which the crime was addressed.
During our travel across the state, we came across posters of several history-sheeters proclaiming themselves to be agents of good governance. In a state beset by recurring riots, there are several omens in the run-up to the elections. People seem fed up with the usual political rhetoric, and on the lookout for the superman who can set right every wrong in society and politics.
Such desperation creates a background to paint Modi as a saviour who apparently turned Gujarat into an ideal state. For example, a tea vendor named Kushwaha in Ghazipur feels Modi would replicate Gujarat in his town. His view is based on what he heard from migrant workers of his town employed in Gujarat. Is this possible? Nobody is interested in the answer. In pre-partition times, a section of Muslims perceived Pakistan as a utopia and Mohammad Ali Jinnah as the saviour.
The idea of visiting Gangauli was certainly not to compare the situation then and now. It was more to explore the nature of the political discourse. That remains unchanged. In Aadha Gaon, Muslims of Gangauli rejected outright the idea of Pakistan as alien to their way of life. In all these years, Gangauli has not failed India. Perhaps a novelist cut from the same block as Raza should revisit the Aadha Gaon and show the larger truth in yet another riveting story in the contemporary context.
Despite its faultlines — and it has many — this village retains that subtle idea of the Indian ethos. A state-wide alert has been issued for Mumba. Probing data concerning increased job creation and the decline in unemployment has been holding the attention of economists and been subject of discussions in several think tanks in the preceding months. The guidelines, issued based on extensive consultations held with states and UTs, will be effective from June 1 till June The first phase of reo.
The pandemic has aggravated the existing food crisis in India, especially in rural and tribal regions. There has been less availability of fresh foods in most parts of the country, and the tribal community has.
Following the home ministry order regarding the movement by special trains of migrant worker. Aadha Gaon: UP's Gangauli offers the big picture of current politics A Muslim-dominated village of Uttar Pradesh formed the backdrop of a famous partition saga. What this microcosm of India reveals about the coming elections Ajay Singh April 19, Homeless riot victims at one of the many refugee camps in Muzaffarnagar.
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ADHA GAON - HINDI
Jump to navigation. At the time this story happened, it was a mixed village but its routines were dominated by the Shia Saiyids who were its zamindars. The author was one of these Saiyids and in this novel he takes us home. In the Gangauli of his childhood, zamindari seemed part of the natural order and the world ended at Ghazipur, a mofussil town nearby. The Saiyids squabbled and played and extravagantly mourned the martyrdom of Hussain during Moharram. The absence of mawkishness has something to do with the task Reza has set for himself.
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