Pedalling for peace
Having lost 35 members of his family in the freedom struggle of the country, this former Havaldar of the Indian Army is on a cycling mission to eradicate hatred and war from the globe and corruption from the country.
Driven by a strong desire to spread peace and check corruption, 74-year-old Nathi Prasad Nainwal, a resident of Kandamalla in Uttaranchal who visited Ludhiana recently, has pedalled some 80,000 km in eight years.
For this ex-serviceman, who has fought wars against Pakistan and China, combating the enemies on the frontiers has been much easier than battling corruption and anti-social elements within the country.
Still, he is doing his bit to imbibe in the people patriotism and various social values. “I stop at villages and try to spread awareness among villagers. If I am able to change the mindset of even a thousand people, I will think my mission has been achieved,” he says.
He has just returned from Nepal and Bhutan and hopes to go to Pakistan too. “I know that the visa is a problem but without visiting that country my mission will be incomplete,” he adds.
Having served in the Indian Army Parachute Regiment for 25 years, Nainwal started off from his native village on February 5, 1999, immediately after the Kargil war. The septuagenarian laments that when he spoke up against several corrupt senior officers in the defence and administrative departments, he himself had to face action.
Recalling the days when he had fought the China war and suffered bullet injuries in his stomach, Nainwal says at that time they had taken on the enemy outside the country. “But today, the enemy is within. Corruption is consuming the country,” he adds.
Bikes, batons and bhukki
The general image of cops is that of rough and tough, baton-wielding men who hardly connect with the common man. Thus, when these very men in khakee mingle with the public for a social cause, it comes as a pleasant surprise to many.
The district police took such an initiative recently when it organised an awareness rally against the use of drugs in Rattia town and its surrounding villages, infamous for drug trafficking and addicts.
The rally proved to be a success as the police not only persuaded many addicts to shun drugs but also recovered large quantities of poppy husk after tip-offs provided by the people during this event.
Hundreds of participants, including police personnel, businessman, students, farmers and government officials on motorcycles, began their journey from Rattia and passed through neighbouring villages.
Folk artistes also participated in the rally, lending it a festive look.
Led by the district police chief Saurabh Singh, the participants carried placards with messages like, ‘Drug is a knife, that cuts life’, ‘Nashe ki latt, maut ko khatt’ (Drug addiction is a letter to death) and ‘Yadi banana hai desh mahaan, band karo nasha paan’ (If you want your country to emerge great, shun drugs). The SP, Sirsa, Vikas Arora, was the chief guest.
Several social organisations like the Bharat Vikas Parishad, the Loins Club Rattia, Vyapaar Mandal Rattia and the JCI, Rattia, collaborated with the organisers.
“Bhukki ne tan saade sharir vi khatam kat te te nale jaminan te paisa vi kha gai. Assan agge ton bhukkin nai khauni,” (Poppy-husk has not only eaten up our bodies also our land holdings and financial resources. We will not take it in future), vowed Jarnail Singh, a frail-looking farmer from Rattangarh village, who reached the dais with great difficulty due to the ill-effects of narcotics on his body.
— Kanchan Vasdev and Sushil Manav
On the trail of the pintail
A team of wildlife officials, comprising Dr Vibhu Prakash, Principal Scientific Officer (Ornithology), Bombay Natural History Society, visited areas near Nangal to study their avifauna last week. The team was satisfied at the influx of both migratory and resident birds.
These days, thousands of birds from the trans-Himalayan region are holidaying in the Nangal area.
The number of brahminy ducks, pintails, black-necked grebes, red-necked grebes, large cormorants, mallards, coots, moorhens, darters, terns and ruddyshell ducks in this border area of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh has been on the rise for the past many years, says Prabhat Bhatti, Director, Jagriti Sanstha, Nangal. Bhatti took the team to various areas along the Nangal reservoir and the banks of the Swan river.
Besides the local birds, including the red jungle fowl, the large Indian parakeet, Indian cuckoo, bank myna, wood shrike, yellow-eyed babbler and crested bunting, a large number of birds from far-off hills are flocking to the area.
The team also spotted a flock of sarus between Santoshgarh and Taliwal villages in Una district which are close to Nangal.
“Situated in the lower Shivaliks, Nangal and its surrounding areas are fast emerging as one of the popular destinations for bird-watchers,” says Jatinder Kumar, Chief Conservator (Wildlife), Shivaliks.
— Vishal Gulati