Virility lost, wait for gun

Bhopal, Feb. 22: For two years they have been firing blanks in bed. But the promised gun licence hasn’t come yet.

Virility lost, the men have now decided to take up the pen in their quest for the “ultimate symbol of manliness”.

A group of 84 in the Gwalior-Chambal region, who got themselves sterilised in exchange for a gun licence, is writing to Union home minister P. Chidambaram, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Chauhan and the newly formed “National Association for Gun Rights in India” to press their case.

Contractor Lalit Gupta, photographer Bhupender Namdev, agriculturalist Hamid Hussain and others had queued up for a vasectomy operation in February-March 2008 after Shivpuri district collector Manish Srivastva had come up with the gun licence offer.

Two years have passed but there is no sign of a licence.

Senior officials in the state health ministry blamed bureaucrats. “It may have happened that while the collector, Srivastva, was keen to increase the number of vasectomies, the police and other wings of the government were less enthusiastic. Once he was transferred, everything has been forgotten,” said a senior official.

Gupta said he regretted going for the offer. “I have two daughters and now my relatives often taunt me for not having a son. My profession is such that I need a gun while travelling to far-flung areas. I also thought a gun would enhance my social stature. Today I feel I was taken for a ride,” said the 35-year-old contractor.

Namdev, 38, said a gun in the dacoit-infested Gwalior-Chambal region was an ultimate symbol of manliness. “But now we are being laughed at.”

Collector Srivastva was transferred last year and the new collector feigns ignorance about the scheme. “I have no knowledge about it. The offer of such an incentive is not there in any file,” Raj Kumar Pathak said.

In February-March 2008, Srivastva had come up with the idea while trying to figure out why men were not coming forward for a simple non-scalpel procedure that would keep the population in check.

The previous year, 2007, had seen only eight persons coming forward to attend “nasbandi (vasectomy) camps” in exchange for a cash incentive of Rs 1,100.

“I gathered that it had to do with their perceived notion of manliness. I then decided to match it with a bigger symbol of manliness, a gun licence,” Srivastva had said.

District chief medical officer A.K. Dixit admitted that with the licences proving elusive, vasectomy queues had dried up, too. At a recent camp in Shivpuri, only two elderly men turned up. “Once incentives are off, people lose motivation,” Dixit said.

Both Namdev and Gupta said a letter had been prepared requesting the home minister’s intervention.

Abhijeet Singh, co-ordinator of the National Association for Gun Rights in India, said the 2008 scheme was a “gross violation” of human rights. “This is no way of promoting population stabilisation.”

Originally appeared in The Telegraph-Calcutta 2/22/10