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UP pradhan-student in a spot after her video from Ukraine goes viral

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Vaishali Yadav talked about how she and other students were running out of supplies and were hoping for a quick resolution. Her video went viral on social media and, within a few days, landed her in a spot.

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A third-year student in Ivano Frankvisk city of Ukraine, Vaishali was elected Pradhan Adhyhaksh in Teri Pursauli gram panchayat last year.

According to officials, a month into her five-year tenure, Vaishali left for Ukraine on September 23 to complete her medicine degree.

When Vaishali sought help to return to India, objection was raised regarding her absence while being a public representative. The Hardoi administration has now given her a showcause notice and is probing the functioning of the gram panchayat since the time she was elected.

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On February 22, Vaishali contacted her father Mahendra Pratap Singh, former block pramukh from Sandi, discussing her return to India amid rising tension in Ukraine. A flight ticket was booked for February 24 but an explosion at the Ukranian airport prevented her departure.

“We tried to get her out on a flight in time but there were many issues. She eventually had to stay back and had to navigate on her own. There were 120 students along with her who booked two buses and managed to reach Romania. She appealed for help on Twitter and people gave it a political colour. I am just glad she is somehow able to find her way back,” said Singh.

In a video posted last week, Vaishali said, “We are all stuck in our flats. We cannot step out because there is constant bombing. Our hopes are pinned on the Indian government that it would help us escape as fast as possible.”

Shortly after the video, a message was circulated that Vaishali had been arrested by UP Police for the “fake message” as she was never present in Ukraine. Hardoi Police denied the arrest. But the fact that she was present in Ukraine complicated things further.

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According to rules, gram panchayat is supposed to be meet once a month. The gap between two meetings cannot exceed two months. Also, a panchayat member cannot be absent in three consecutive meetings, officials said.

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In case of absence, the pradhan has to give in writing, explaining the cause, which will be passed on to a government official at panchayat level.

Since Vaishali left within a month of her election, questions were raised about her absence. Her father, however, said she remained in touch with people back home through WhatsApp and Internet calling.

“Whatever the issues were, they were conveyed to her and she was actively managing it. She attended one meeting and would have been in time for the second meeting. The present government has not carried out any development and the onus is on us to make sure facilities reach people,” said Singh.

The Hardoi administration has ordered to probe into the matter.

“We are following the provisions given in the Panchayati Raj Act. Since she is an elected representative, there will be a procedure followed. We have given her a showcause notice and a reply will be sought.

“A report will be handed to the administration by a block level officer. Once all the details are obtained with regards to the number of meetings held and role of all people concerned, then only action will be considered,” said Avinash Kumar, DM Hardoi.

Learn More: Why the U.S. Doesn’t Mind India’s Notable Silence on Ukraine

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