Hopeful, Bhatta-Parsaul wary too

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Several homes in the twin villages of Bhatta and Parsaul did not celebrate Diwali last year. These were the homes of the nine men who had been picked up by the police in the aftermath of the May 2011 clashes between the administration and the farmers.

But this year, Diwali will be extra special here.

On Friday, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced that all cases related to the violence and registered against the farmers will be dropped.

In an apparent reference to Ram's exile in Ramayan, Kela Devi said: "It may not have been 14 years, but the 18 months that my husband and brother-in-law spent in jail seemed just as long. And if they come back this month, then it will be a real Diwali."

Residents of Bhatta, Ghan Singh (Kela Devi's husband) and Gaje Singh (her brother-in-law) have been in jail since the clashes.

"They were innocent. They were not part of the agitation at all. Four men from Bhatta and five from Parsaul were picked up and put in jail for no fault of theirs. It was a political conspiracy. When the new government came and the Chief Minister said that all cases would be taken back, I didn't believe him. But now I have hope, and this year I will celebrate Diwali," Kela Devi said.

But the villagers still do not believe that the cases will be withdrawn. "The only information that we have received is from the mediapersons. Nobody from police or the administration told us anything. We will believe it only when they (the jailed men) return," said Karan Singh, uncle of Kalu who is also in jail.

Police said the release would at least take a month.

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