Bijnor is 70 km away from Moradabad. You pass through a narrow road flanked by fields of wheat, sugarcane and even chillies. The tractor-trailers trundle on laden with sugarcane. And the way is also marked with private institutes of technology and management. And at Bijnor the people say that these private educational institutes are of no benefit to the locals. It is meant for the outsiders who pay the high fees charged by the private managements.
Navneet Tripathi and Rajesh Awasthi are shopkeepers, and they analyse the politics of the place. Bijnor is a very large district spanning 90 km and with a population of 36 lakh, they say. Bijnor itself has a three lakh population, with 90, 000 Muslims and 60,000 Jats and they let you know that Jats and Muslims will never vote together. Mahesh Chand Sharma, 78, a retired government employee, says, "In my time, it was the Congress. Then it was the BJP. Now it is the BSP."
Atiq Rehman, 40, a vegetable vendor, says he keeps away from politics and that he has no opinion in the matter. He has four sons, two daughters. "I work, pray to God, and look after my family. I keep away from politics." Babloo, 22, a 8th standard dropout, and Mohammed Amir, 19, a house-painter, are the youth of a small town who seem to stick to their high spirits in spite of the invisible gloominess hovering over the town. They feel that the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has an edge.
Kamal Khanna, 60, advocate, typifies the attitude of the town in some ways. "There has been no development here. People are not active. The major segments of the population belong to Dalits and Muslims. And the political parties play caste and community cards," he says in an impassive town.
The Sunday haat is bustling with people, and vegetables lay out their wares. It is the one defnite sign of life and activity in a place that seems to be caught in freeze-frame.