There was very little Pushkar Dutt Bhatt was looking forward to after completing a life sentence in jail for the murder of his wife and daughter 20 years ago in a fit of rage. But on his return in August last year to his native village Bastadi, in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, he was shocked by what he saw. While he was in prison, deadly flash floods in July 2016 that killed 21 had driven out each of the residents. There was not a soul left behind. All the houses were empty and broken.
“It was a ghost village,” the 52-year-old ex-convict said. “I was the only human being living there.” In an unprecedented application to the district administration, Bhatt has requested that he be sent back to the jail in Sitarganj, Uddham Singh Nagar, where he spent the better part of his youth. “At least there are people there. Here there are only ghosts, sad memories.”
Bhatt sent out the petition after having lived in Bastadi all alone for six months following his release from jail, a man almost marooned in a land that was just in 2016 bustling with life. He said he couldn’t take the “despair and loneliness” any longer. “I tried living all by myself alone among the ruins. But I can’t go on,” he added.
“There is neither water nor electricity in the village. Dozens of houses including mine are in ruins. Wild animals from the nearby jungle roam around freely. Almost two years have passed since the devastation happened but nobody has paid heed to the village. I have stayed there for the past year but I cannot bear to do so anymore. That is why I told district authorities to send me to jail again which is better for me,” an anguished Bhatt told
He added that he had approached district officials several times for help. “I submitted a complaint in September last year but no action was taken. Then I went to the janta darbar held in the district on October 16 and gave my application again. Finally, I told the district magistrate that if the government was doing nothing about the village, then I have nowhere else but the jail to go to.”
Officials said that the man’s case has been referred to the sub-divisional magistrate, Didihat, for further action. Till then, Bhatt will have to live with the ghosts and the wild animals. An interesting case, isn’t it? India has lots of ghost abandoned towns as such. Check out this ghost town in Gujarat!