The invitation for the 29 September programme reached Badrimahu on 23 September. As villagers were travelling to the weekly market in Darbha in a mini-door truck, a patrol party stopped them near Kakkalgur. “We will release five people from your village whom we had arrested if you come to the police station on 29 September,” they were told.
The matter was discussed at a village meeting, since all the residents had been called. As such, they saw no harm in visiting the policestation ‘especially since it involved the release of innocent people’.
A pandal and official paraphernalia greeted them at the police station after the long walk from the village that morning. There were official speeches in which the police asked them not to run away, and assured them that they meant no harm. Each villager was presented with an umbrella, a gamchha (towel), a sari/ lungi; the event, the first of its kind involving Badrimahu was adequately photographed. A vehicle arranged by the police dropped them back to the village, demonstrating amply how much the cops cared.
Before they left, the villagers asked Yadav to talk to the SHO Durgesh Sharma regarding the promised release of five arrested villagers. He was scolded and threatened by the SHO.
Later that same day, Yadav was picked up by the Darbha police from his house forcibly. The next day’s local papers carried news of Badrimahu seeking police protection. The counter narrative had been removed.
*Name changed or withheld to protect identity.
[ isha khandelwal ]