India is a country filled with bizarre stories, but at times reality turns out to be stranger than fiction. Highways are meant to bring prosperity and development, but for one tribal village in Telangana, a highway has spelled doom.
The highway of death
The national highway number 44 connects India’s north to it’s southern part, but almost all men from a small village named Peddakunta have been welcomed by death on this highway. Peddakunta is now known as the village of widows as reported by BBC .
Although the 80 accidental deaths reported on the highway include those of people from other villages too, Peddakunta has lost all its men, leaving only widows and a lone adult male who lost his wife to the same highway.
While reasons suggested range from a curse to paranormal activity, the problem started after a bypass to the highway was built a decade ago. The hit and run accidents take place exactly around the same spot where the busy bypass meets the path to the village, indicating that the incidents are clearly avoidable.
In the village of 35 families, 37 men have died and three have left it for good. A 65-year-old pan shop owner on the road leading to the village says, “There are no men left there.” A 44-year-old woman recounts how she lost her son and husband in accidents at the same spot in a span of few months.
A deadly journey
To add to the woes of the widows, the village headquarters are situated on the other side of the highway. This means that people need to risk the deadly journey to be able to reach out to the administration. A man from a nearby village did take this journey to file a petition about the deaths, only to meet the same fate as many others.
While venturing out on to the highway means almost certain death, the villagers are still waiting for a service route for a decade, so that they could get safe passage across the highway.
Women left vulnerable
Women in the village are faced with another problem as they are left alone and vulnerable to men from neighbouring villages making sexual advances at them. Poverty caused by lack of income has pushed some widows into prostitution, as men take advantage of the tragedy.
No help, no hope
The widows of the village say that politicians and government officials do visit the village after media attention, but the only relief they get is half a kilo of rice to eat per family, with no family or work.
Only five children attend a nearby school | Source: BBC
Illiteracy is also a major issue as only five children go to a nearby school, since the villagers are too afraid to send them out of the village. The widows want to send their children to government hostels so that they have a chance at survival.