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Bhatta Parasaul ashes: Was Rahul Gandhi misled?

By A Correspondent
Last updated on: May 18, 2011 09:33 IST
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"Rahul Gandhi seems to have believed the 'loose talk' by certain aggrieved farmers that they shared with him and his team," says a political editor of a well-known television news channel who had accompanied Rahul on May 11 when he visited Bhatta Parasual village in Greater Noida where farmers are agitating against the low price offered for their land by Mayavati government of Uttar Pradesh.

"Rahul seems to have made a mistake in accepting 'talks without substance' as 'evidence' of Uttar Pradesh police's atrocities," he adds.

On Monday, Rahul made a sensational statement which implied that a massacre took place in and around Bhatta Parasual. He also described a 70-foot high pile of ashes, with dead bodies inside it. He even emailed pictures of heap of ashes to the media.

Rahul told the media at the prime minister's residence, "Severe atrocities are taking place there....There are heaps of ashes with dead bodies inside. Everybody in the village knows it. We can give you pictures. Women have been raped, people have been thrashed, houses have been destroyed."

Now it turns out that Rahul was, most probably, misled. After his statement, more than 50 reporters and TV cameras rushed from New Delhi in search of 'the pile of bodies'.

They did find some ashes scattered around, but the pile had no bones, no skulls or anything to indicate that there were indeed any human remains. A mediaperson who was present at the spot described the pile of ashes as "smelling of cow-dung and dirt".

So far, neither the media nor the Uttar Pradesh police have found the 'human ashes'.

If Rahul's claim proves to be true, than it would shake the nation that so many farmers can be burnt alive by a state establishment without any knowledge of the media or civil society, just 15 kilometres from the national capital.

The UP police told the media that they have sent the 'ashes' to a forensic laboratory.

Meanwhile, a TV journalist who was at Bhatta Parasual told rediff.com, "We asked villagers about Rahul's claim but we found vague answers." According to some villagers Rahul's team member Pankaj Shankar and Biju had come to collect the data and had taken videos and photographs. It seems Rahul has largely depended on the input of his team.

Most of the villagers pleaded ignorance on Tuesday because, they argued, that so many human bodies can't be burnt without tons of wood, ghee or chemicals.

UP-based journalists searched for the women 'victims' on Tuesday, that Rahul claimed had been raped, but it seems that there is some misunderstanding about that as well.

One woman victim Uma Sharma told many reporters, "The police burnt my house and arrested my husband."

Another woman Naseebanbi told a TV reporter that see saw some bones floating in the nearby stream, but the police found that they were chicken bones.

A senior villager told reporters in Bhatta, "Lagta hai Rahul ji afvahon ke ghere main aa gaye hai." (Rahul Gandhi seems to have been victim of rumours.).

Now villagers and the media will have to wait until forensic reports of the ashes are revealed.  

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A Correspondent in New Delhi
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