Thursday, June 01, 2017

Gangs hunt freely around Jewar airport site

Evening is just a few winks away when we reach Jewar, and take a left turn from the Yamuna expressway after the Hie 5ive Tourist Dhaba, and guide our car down the gentle slope of the service lane that leads, a few hundred metres ahead, to what locals now call the "highway of horrors". Two minutes on, the road arcs left to bring us to our destination: the Sikandrabad-Jewar-Bulandshahr road where, on May 25, a man was murdered and four women allegedly raped by a gang of armed robbers. Like us, they too were in a car, but had been ambushed.
As we slow down and gaze at the vast empty fields rolling by, the stark contrast of our two successive reporting assignments in Jewar hits us. We were here just a month ago, gazed at these same fields and imagined the contours of a large international airport, visualised planes landing and taking off, and discussed what wonders it would do for a region that has stayed on the margins of development -certainly as far as jobs and social empowerment go -despite an expressway running through it.
But as circumstance would have it, we are back for a ground report instead on the `horror highway' that skirts the site of the airport proposed here for over a decade, a project that the newly elected state government led by Yogi Aditya Nath is interested in reviving.
The sky is till faintly lit when we arrive at Sabota Mustfabad, where the May 25 ambush and murder happened, less than a kilometre from the Yamuna expressway. Sabota Mustfabad is among the 35 villages where land is proposed to be acquired for the international airport.
01/06/17 Prem Bisht & Shafaque Alam/Times of India
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