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Kartik Purnima fair

Transcending religion, caste

Harveer Dabas, Nov 12, 2019: The Times of India

Suraj, 6, giggled in amusement as wet locks of his hair fell on the lap and he felt the morning breeze on the bald patches of his head. The barber, Kareem, who was at the he-lm of his head and was tonsuring him, was also a happy man. Suraj was his 12th customer.

Just like Kareem, more than 800 people from the minority community make hay during the week-long Kartik Purnima fair in UP’s Bijnor every year, notwithstanding the religious divide. Ranging from flower vendors to balloon sellers and barbers, they fan out in the entire ‘mela’ area and help run the show smoothly.

“They are catering to lakhs of pilgrims. The man who supervised the fair arrangement is also from the Muslim community. Their cooperation is invaluable,” said Shyam Bahadur Sharma, apar mukhya adhikari of district panchayat.

Ali Hasan, a 60-year-old vendor selling toys said, “I am from nearby Mandawar town. These fairs do not belong to any community or caste. They are of all communities. ”

“Bikes of Bijnor” 


Dipak Dash, April 5, 2021: The Times of India

Bijnor, a small city in Uttar Pradesh, has set an example of how bicycle sharing can be rolled out with little investment at a time when several big cities are struggling to start such initiatives. The “Bikes of Bijnor” scheme utilised 100 refurbished bicycles left behind by migrant labourers, which would have become junk by now.

This experiment in the past one month involving government officers and civil society has received appreciation from central government agencies and even Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari. He pointed out in Parliament that this was an affordable model to promote non-motorised transport in urban areas. These bicycles are currently available to riders without any charge but soon users would have to pay a token Rs 5 for a four-hour ride and Rs 10 for 12 hours.

The scheme was conceived by Vikramaditya Singh Malik, a 2018 batch IAS officer, who took charge as SDM in the district last August. Malik said he spotted a number of bicycles lying at a police post when he was on a tour in October and their conditions had deteriorated. These cycles belonged to migrant labourers who were returning home during the lockdown.

Bijnor lies on the way from Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand and several migrant labourers on cycles took this route to reach their homes in eastern UP and Bihar. The administration had made arrangements to provide food and shelter and to send them to their homes in special trains and buses. Hence, they left their cycles in Bijnor. “For months, these cycles were stacked up at vari ous centres facing severe wear and tear sometimes. Around 400 cycles were lying abandoned. So, we planned how to utilise them before they became junk,” Malik told TOI. These cycles were brought to the district headquarters and an independent valuation assessment was done, which was worked out at Rs 600. The district administration tried to reach out to the actual owners to find if they want to take back their cycles or would take Rs 600. Very few owners took back the cycles. The price for each cycle was paid from the DM Covid Relief Fund.

A society was formed and contributions came from different groups to operationalise the scheme.


Migration to J&K

Harveer Dabas, Labourers from J&K head back to Valley, say `situation normal'Dec 20 2016 : The Times of India

Kashmir is considered the hub of bakeries, painting shops and garments, especially leather jackets. According to a rough estimate, around 1,500 workers (including construction workers, barbers and washermen) from the district, including Mandawali, Kaziwala, Barkala, Chandpura, Madhusudanpur, Bhoganwala, Kotwali and Dehat areas, used to depend on Kashmir for their livelihood.Many of them had been staying in the Valley for years, living in areas like Badgaon, Chanapora, Sopore, Rambag, Nawata, Tral, etc. Out of the 1500, over 1,000 had returned [in mid 2015] after unrest in the Valley resulted in loss of their jobs.

“We lived in Sopore for years. My shop was running well. But all went downhill after the clashes started in Kashmir four months ago. As the situation deteriorated, markets closed down indefinitely,“ said Mohammed Intezar, a barber. Intezar decided to return after he heard that the situation had improved in the Valley

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