Agra woman Rani Devi dies after 81 days of protest demanding road and drainage system

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Agra: Rani Devi, who had been protesting for 81 days demanding a road and proper drainage system in Dhanoli, Ajeejpura and Siroli villages in Uttar Pradesh`s Agra, has died at the protest site. Devi died on Sunday. Another woman, sleeping next to Rani, was hastened to hospital in an unconscious state.

Locals have been staging protests in the area for the past 81 days. They have shouted slogans at the headquarters district, gone bald, sat inside potholes and waterlogged roads, went on a hunger strike, and placed posters to boycott the coming Assembly elections. A few of them even pasted “for sale” banners on the walls of their houses.

Rani, 48, was a resident of Vikas Nagar, under the jurisdiction of Malpura police station. She had been regularly protesting at the Siroli-Dhanoli road protest site since October 13. She was living with her 22-year-old son, Neeraj (first name only) in a rented house near the site.

Neeraj, a laborer at a shoe manufacturing unit, said, “I used to tell my mother to not go to the protest site at night but she was adamant. She had slept there on Saturday. She did not wake up when I went to give her tea on Sunday morning. Her body was cold and stiff. We called a doctor who declared her dead. The district administration is solely responsible for her death.”

Confirming that Rani died at the protest site, SDM Lakshmi N. said, “The body has been sent for post-mortem. We will try to give the family some monetary assistance from the chief minister’s relief fund and benefits under other government schemes “

Meanwhile, the other woman, who fell unconscious, is 85-year-old Kirti Devi. On December 5, Kirti, along with one Chaudhary Prem Singh, had dug up land near the protest site and observed a sit-in protest.

Social activist Savitri Chahar, who is leading the protest, said, “In the past three years, we have raised issues such as lack of sanitation and hygiene, waterlogging, and poor road and drainage. We had staged a protest over these issues last year as well following which the local authorities told us they will resolve the issue of waterlogging, but nothing has been done so far.”

District Magistrate Prabhu N. Singh said, “Development works worth Rs 43 crore have been proposed for Dhanoli and nearby areas. Following the demand of locals, the construction of roads was initiated. Earlier, temporary arrangements were made to clear waterlogging. We are also working to develop a permanent drainage system. Suitable help will be provided to the deceased woman`s family.”

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