The news that ‘Katiyabaaz’ a documentary made on the power crisis of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh has been made tax-free gives me the goose bumps

If the title of this article looks like a title of an Enid Blyton book it was meant to be that way.The news that ‘Katiyabaaz’ a documentary made on the power crisis of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh has been made tax-free gives me the goose bumps.

The logic of the Akhilesh government that it has been made tax-free so that all engineers in the State see how people steal power illegally making KESCO the power department of Kanpur almost bankrupt is far from the truth.

kanpur Three famous Ks of Kanpur   Katiyabaaz, Khaini, Khuran?

Having lived or rather survived in Kanpur despite its 7 to 8 hour power cuts which ruined all my electronic items a decade ago I can vouch for the fact that there is no officer of the power department who does not know how Katiyas are used. It is a very simple mechanism which is today called ‘Jugaad’ whereby residents connect their personal electricity board with the street lights provided by the Government through a wire.

Interestingly, one of the reasons for the frequent riots in the famous city is the raids conducted by the electricity department in the congested and crowded by-lanes. Whenever the inspectors raid these areas some miscreant throws a stone in the house of the member of the other community. And the threat of riots forces the power department to back out.

My own gut feeling is that the film is being given tax exemption to help the yet uninitiated into the art of drawing power through the Katiyas and not for the engineers. This can be gauged from the fact that Loha Singh the man who takes pride in helping the power –starved people in running their house- holds has been portrayed like a Robin Hood in the film. It is this constituency that is the strong -hold of the Samajwadi Party, not the upright officers.

Which reminds me that Kanpur is known for some other Ks as well. One is Khaini or Pan Masala. I am not sure whether this has changed today but when I was posted there about 10 years ago there was a huge hoarding at the Railway Station saying ‘”The city of Pan Masala welcomes you”.

Yet another important K for the city of Kanpur is Zahar Khurani. Every morning newspapers carry pictures of pass’engers on the railway station of the city posing for the cameras in their under- garments because a gang had deprived them of all their belongings including their clothes after drugging them. These activities are not uncommon in other cities of Uttar Pradesh but the pride of place for making this into a fine art again goes to Kanpur!

By: Amitabh Srivastava

Image Source : Kanpur

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