The 'Rampuri Chaku,' a knife made famous by 1980s Bollywood films, has been accorded a fitting tribute by the authorities in Uttar Pradesh's Rampur who named a roundabout 'chaku' chowk and installed a 20-foot Rampuri knife on it, as per a report in news agency PTI. Rampur was once recognised for several small-scale enterprises that produced high-quality foldable knives.
Moradabad Divisional Commissioner Aunjaneya Kumar Singh unveiled the 'knife' in the presence of senior authorities and local leaders. Rampur's Member of Legislative Assembly Akash Saxena, who was also present at the unveiling of the large knife, claimed that while Rampuri knives once represented fear, they are now being appreciated as a skill.
The roundabout on Nainital road marks the entry point to Rampur when travelling from Uttarakhand.
According to the MLA, Mr Saxena, the government has pleaded with state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to exempt the knife-making industries from the GST. Local business owners, however, think that the new roundabout may increase interest in the distinctive knife, but there's more still to be done.
Rehmat Raza Khan, a local who has been manufacturing knives for generations, told the news agency, "In early nineties, there were over two dozen units manufacturing Rampuri knives which were sold in several small shops. Apart from the main markets these shops also lined markets near Railway station and bus stops where visitors purchased them as souvenirs."
Mr Khan noted that although the knife became well-known after being mentioned in numerous Bollywood movies, its link with violence also contributed to its demise. He said, "Chaku began to be seen as associated with low rung criminals and pickpockets because this is how they were shown by the Bollywood, which put the general public off it."
Even at its peak of demand, when customers came from all over the nation, the Rampuri knife was unable to find a market outside. Along with declining demand and popularity, the sector has suffered from easy access to inexpensive knives, which are often imported from China.
Another trader, Mohammad Shadab Raza, said, "Chinese knives have taken over the market. They are of lower quality and cost half of that of an original Rampuri, so people buy them instead of the original. Because of this the market of Rampuri knives has reached a point of extinction in the last decade."
Mr Khan told the news agency that they have "urged the state government to include the knife in ODOP (One District, One Product) scheme and train new artisans and help them reach out to a bigger market".