Field Notes: 'Don’t Do Such Drama In Front Of The DM'


When I visited the Agra district magistrate for a story on the UP Mukhyamantri Samuhik Vivah Yojana (UP Chief Minister Mass Wedding Scheme), I saw a group of ten women coming out of his office.  

One of the women shouted, "No one listens and understands the problems and sufferings of the poor people. It's been a year since we have been wandering in government offices, but till now, there has been no hearing or solution to our problems". 

As I looked more closely, I saw that some of them were crying. 

When I asked why, one woman, Gudiya Devi, 41, said that she had made rounds of the DM’s office and various local bodies but had not received her widow’s pension for one and a half years.

The other women in the group said they had received their pension a long ago. They noted other women living in their areas were in the same fix. 

When I asked what pension scheme they were discussing, Gudiya Devi replied that she had registered in UP Nirashrit Mahila Pension Yojana (Destitute Women Pension Scheme) around Diwali in 2019. At that time, she received 500 rupees per month as a pension, but in December 2021, her pension stopped, and she had been going to different government offices looking for help. 

Gudiya Devi stated that in April 2022, the information she got from the DM’s office was to fill out the online pension form and get her Aadhar card linked with her bank account. She went to the collectorate office and submitted her Aadhar card, bank passbook and mobile number. Still, her pension had not started when I met her in December 2022. 

Gudiya Devi's husband Vijendra died in a road accident 12 years ago, and the responsibility of raising four children—two girls and two boys—fell on her. 

After her husband died, Gudiya Devi earned a living as a housemaid for five years. Then, she opened a small grocery shop in her own house. This shop is the only source of income for her and her family. 

When her economic condition deteriorated, Gudiya Devi applied for the pension. 

Gudiya Devi told me that she and 50 widows tried to meet chief minister Yogi Adityanath during his visit to Agra on 28 November 2022. 

Gudiya Devi said she heard Adityanath telling the public about various schemes his government had launched while she and the other widows were waiting to meet him.

“We strived hard to meet CM, but the police administration stopped us,” she said.

While I was speaking with them, a woman inspector came and talked to the women. Surprisingly, instead of telling them to go away, she suggested they sit on a protest in front of the DM’s office. 

When the women gathered to protest, some reporters started covering them. 

Then, an official came out of the DM’s office and told them,  “Don't do such drama in front of the DM. He will not give you a pension. Your pension will come from Lucknow. Why did you all enter the DM's office, and why did you speak to those media people? Will they offer your pensions to you?” 

In the DM's office, I saw the contempt with which the government employees speak with the poor people they are meant to serve. 

You can read Shivani Chaudhary’s full story here

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