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Samjhauta blasts: 'Criminal village' to the rescue

By Santosh K Joy in Siwah (Haryana)
March 05, 2007 12:00 IST
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The tiny hamlet of Siwah near Panipat had all along carried the tag of being a "village of criminals."

But when the blasts in the Samjhauta Express rocked February 18 midnight, all that changed.

That night, people of the village rose as one to help the survivors of the blasts.

Siwah, 6 km from Panipat and situated alongside the Delhi-Amritsar railway line, has been notorious for having a large number of people with criminal background.

"The village had a very negative record. Many people here have been killed in police encounters, more than 200 people
here are out on bail and several others are languishing in jail on various charges," M S Sheoran, superintendent of
police, Panipat told PTI.

Highway robberies had become a routine affair in the area and many culprits were caught from the village that has a population of around 15,000.

However, the service rendered by the village in launching relief and rescue work as the Samjhauta Express came to a halt with two bogies on fire, was exemplary, and the villagers were a big help to the administration, Sheoran said.

The villagers say it was only natural for them to have provided help to the passengers of Samjhauta Express. 

"We know we are looked at with suspicion. But can anyone complain of loss of luggage or any article having gone missing from the scene? We were there throughout helping the passengers," said Karan Singh, the village sarpanch.

"The criminal behaviour of some of our youths has actually overshadowed our contribution to the society. Five of
the Kargil martyrs were from our village," added Singh, himself a retired army subedar.

"We did not know till the morning that the people inside were Pakistani citizens. All that we knew was they were human
beings and we needed to help them. Our women even donated their clothes to the passengers," said Satyanarayan, another village elder.

He hoped the village, after the help its people provided to the Samjhauta passengers, will now be seen in a better light.

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Santosh K Joy in Siwah (Haryana)
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