Bhograi: Even as Andhra Pradesh had conducted panchayat polls in Odisha villages in Koraput, the poll-bound West Bengal has made a similar bid to conduct Assembly polls in Odisha villages. The WB government has made Sankhamedi village under Bhograi block as part of its Ramnagar Assembly constituency in East Midnapur district.
Leaders of various political parties were seen electioneering in Sankhamedi where banners, posters and festoons were found all over the village.
The WB government has changed the name of Sankhamedi as ‘Sankhamudi’ just like Andhra did with regard to Kotia villages. Besides, a school in the middle of the village has been named as ‘Sankhamudi Sishu Sikhya Kendra’.
In 1954, Odisha government had made a provision of education in the village by setting up a non-formal school. In those days, Sankhamedi was under Analia panchayat.
In 2008, a two-storied building was set up at Sankhamedi with the efforts of Bhograi MLA and former minister Ananta Das. However, the problem was that the state government stopped collecting revenue from the village since 1962. But it continued to provide benefits like electricity, Anganwadi service, roads, ration cards and toilets to villagers. Locals said students suffer as they cannot avail of cast and income certificates. The villagers also get a lot of benefits from West Bengal.
Ajay Jena, ward member of Sankhamedi, said, ‘We are Odias and our forefathers were Odias. We are born in Odisha and will die in Odisha.” He demanded that Odisha government provide them land pattas and caste certificates.
However, Akhila Giri, the TMC MLA nominee for Ramnagar constituency, said voters of Sankhamedi usually take part in Odisha and West Bengal elections. Bhograi MLA Ananta Das said the state government has been providing every benefit to the villagers of Sankhamedi. “This village was, is and will be in Odisha,” he asserted.
Surprisingly, Bhograi tehsildar Kamalakant Panda said Sankhamedi is not a revenue village of Odisha. It may be noted that the residents of Sankhamedi have long been demanding that their village be declared as a revenue village under Bhograi block and the state government collect revenue from them.
They said even seven decades after freedom, they have no identities although they identify themselves as Odias. Owing to lack of a revenue village status for Sankhamedi, they do not get residential, caste and income certificates.